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Survivors Of Rape And Forced Marriage Seek Justice In Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Trials

Posted by Michelle Moquin on October 18th, 2016

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Good morning.

I don’t know about you, but I just can’t wait for Hillary to be our first female president, and be done with this election so that we can focus on real issues – decisions on those issues that will affect our entire country and the world. I’m excited to feel the power of a female at the helm, and a Congress that hopefully will go blue so we can continue with what Obama got started.

Not that calling out Trump on sexual harassment, lying, misogyny, racism, etc. aren’t blog worthy topics, they are. But I’m just sick of the drama and the creep all over the news pandering to his “deplorables.” Yes, I echo Clinton’s words because after all that we have learned about Trump, in my opinion, anyone who votes for him is a deplorable. Go ahead and call me out, say, “Fuck you, Michelle and your liberal views,” I can take it. And I won’t back down.

I miss posting important issues that I’m passionate about – issues that need to be brought to light. Issues that otherwise might not get any support, action, or media coverage. And of course those topics usually are about those that need to be illuminated; women’s rights, OTW rights, animal protection, health, the environment. If you’ve been here long enough, you know what I’m talking about.

Speaking of women’s rights, I found this article while perusing the net. My sisters suffer so much at the hands of men and their governments, all over the world. It continues to tear me apart when I read what so many women have to endure on a daily basis for much of their lives. Much of why I’m excited about Hillary is because she has been fighting for women and girls for decades. Finally we will have a president, a woman, who can deeply empathize with the women across the world. I can’t wait to see the changes and assist her in all that we as a country need to do to make this world a better place for all.

Yes, unlike the Obama administration I was not prepared for racism to raise its ugly head over the past 8 years. I was naive to think that electing a black president, people would change and racism would decline – au contraire –  it only got the hate groups to come out in droves, pushing and promoting their hateful messages of dislike of our great president.

With Hillary at the helm, misogyny and sexism will most likely do the same, surfacing more than we’re seeing it now.  If we think this is bad, just look how “Black Lives Matter” came about and we’ll have an idea just how bad it will get.

Well, no need to talk about it now. In due time…

Back to the topic du jour from the Huff Po:

Survivors Of Rape And Forced Marriage Seek Justice In Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Trials


In January, witness Math Sor spoke to the Khmer Rouge tribunal about the treatment of Cham people by the regime. The current trial is hearing from survivors of forced marriage to decide if the regime’s top leaders committed crimes against humanity.

In Cambodia, the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal hears from survivors of forced marriage, but critics say the court should also cover other acts of gender-based violence.

“I just couldn’t understand why falling in love was a crime,” says Youk Chhang, executive director of the Documentation Center of Cambodia, an organization that records atrocities that took place under the Khmer Rouge. From 1975–79, Pol Pot’s brutal regime devastated Cambodia, and an estimated 1.7 million people died from starvation or disease, or were executed.

The Khmer Rouge, known as the Communist Party of Kampuchea (CPK), controlled every part of people’s lives, even love and sexuality. Chhang was only 15 when he witnessed the Khmer Rouge killing a couple because “they fell in love without permission.” To make sure Cambodians married the “right” people, namely those who were loyal to the party, the CPK forced men and women to marry each other.

Survivors of forced marriage are currently giving testimony in Case 002/02, the latest trial to take place at the Khmer Rouge tribunal in Phnom Penh, otherwise known as the Extraordinary Chambers in the Court of Cambodia (ECCC). Evidence of forced marriage will be used to determine if senior leaders of the regime committed crimes against humanity.

The Khmer Rouge used forced marriage to exact ultimate control over relationships, as couples were expected to procreate and produce the next generation of party adherents. No one knows how many people were forcibly married by “Angkar” (the communist party), but mass wedding ceremonies, some consisting of more than 100 couples, took place across Cambodia.

Survivors appearing before the court have described how the regime pressured them to marry. “I refused [to marry] several times, but finally the sector committee said I was a stubborn person,” Sa Lay Hieng said in court. Scared of being killed, Hieng was coerced into marrying a man she did not like. Another witness, who was granted anonymity, said she was made to marry a Khmer Rouge officer in a collective ceremony; when she refused his advances on their wedding night, her new spouse complained to his commander, who then raped her. “I had to bite my lip and shed my tears, but I didn’t dare to make any noise, because I was afraid I would be killed,” she said. She was eventually led back to her husband.

The final testimonies relating to forced marriage will be heard in the coming weeks. But some experts argue that other heinous sexual crimes committed during the Khmer Rouge era, such as rape outside of forced marriage, have been overlooked by the court.

In a study by the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, an NGO that provides counseling to victims appearing before the court, a third of female interviewees witnessed rape outside forced marriage. This finding is echoed by the Documentation Center of Cambodia, which has collected a “significant number of documents” detailing at least 156 cases of rape by Khmer Rouge comrades in cooperatives and detention centers. “The women who were raped were accused of having served in the CIA, KGB or other enemies of Angkar, and taken to be smashed [killed],” said Youk Chhang of the Documentation Center.

Farina So, an expert in gender-based violence perpetrated by the Communist Party of Kampuchea, says that “hundreds and hundreds” of rapes occurred, adding that cadres “used it as a tool to victimize women, to silence them.” In the course of her research, So has interviewed numerous survivors of sexual assault; one of these women, Tang Kim, was considered “an enemy of Angkar” and in 1976 was rounded up – along with eight other women – and readied for execution in Kampong Chhnang province, central Cambodia. While Kim awaited her fate, she could hear the other women being raped and then murdered – “I was terrified to see people being killed off and buried one by one” – recalls Kim in a film made by the Cambodian Documentation Center. She continues, “I saw a Khmer Rouge soldier slashing a woman’s abdomen; they cut it open and took out the fetus.” After being gang-raped by the soldiers, Kim managed to escape and went into hiding.

According to So, Kim tried to submit her civil party application to the Khmer Rouge tribunal, but it was rejected because prosecutors are addressing only sexual abuse within forced marriage. It was, says So, a decision that “really disappointed” Kim and other rape survivors, many of whom have spent decades summoning up the courage to speak about their ordeal.

When Women & Girls Hub approached the Khmer Rouge tribunal to ask why the current trial is focusing exclusively on forced marriage, the court’s spokesperson, Lars Olsen, said co-investigating judges had concluded that rape outside forced marriage was not an official policy of the Khmer Rouge. He pointed to this statement from the tribunal: “Those who were accused of ‘immoral’ behavior, including rape, were often re-educated or killed [so] it cannot be considered that rape was one of the crimes used by CPK leaders to implement the common purpose.”

The survivors and their lawyers, who campaigned for years to have forced marriage added to the list of crimes prosecuted in court, are waiting for the expected judgment in late 2017.

This article originally appeared on Women & Girls Hub. For weekly updates, you can sign up to the Women & Girls Hub email list.


Readers: Under the Khmer Rouge, women were beaten, tortured, raped and often gang raped. It was a part of everyday life for so many women during the regime. Women were considered as nothing more than bearers and raisers of children loyal to the regime and as pieces of meat available to the leaders and soldiers for their sexual pleasure. Rapes were also perpetrated outside the forced marriages during the regime.

It’s about time that these women’s struggle for justice came to an end.

Thoughts? Blog me.

Peace & Love: “Live it, Give it.”

Lastly, greed over a great story is surfacing from my “loyal”(?) readers. With all this back and forth about who owns what, that appears on my blog, let me reiterate that all material posted on my blog becomes the sole property of my blog. If you want to reserve any proprietary rights don’t post it to my blog. I will prominently display this caveat on my blog from now on to remind those who may have forgotten this notice.

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11 Responses to “Survivors Of Rape And Forced Marriage Seek Justice In Cambodia’s Khmer Rouge Trials”

  1. Nancy Says:

    Zen Lill here’s your answer to how much CEO Stumpf got.



  2. Beverly Says:

    Raping women is what men enjoy whenever there is a conflict. Men look for any reason to be able to rape a woman. That’s just the way it is.

  3. Elle Says:

    Having men judge rape is like having white men judge racism. To them it will always not be an issue.

  4. Larry Says:

    My wife is Cambodian and we know a few couples who were forced to be married. After so many years these couples have remained together.

  5. Julie Says:

    Elle#3, what you say is so true. Most men don’t consider rape a war crime.

  6. Roberta Says:

    When women get more power, then we will be able to address rape by men.

  7. Zen Lill Says:

    Mischa, interesting choice of topic, I was chatting the other day about pol pot in the 70′s (read a lot about Asia in general while living in Singapore) and I read pages of stories about the regime just walking into villages without notice and lining up and shooting the men in front of their wives and as if that isn’t horrific trauma enough they were forced into sex slave positions with them (I flatly refuse to call that marriage) it was sickening to read them and now and I know a commenter mentioned putting men judges in charge of that is like having white men judge racism, and that is too true. I want all of them to reincarnate as a woman under the same circumstances, that’s what I want. It’s tough to give them back anything taken from them now bc their lives have been shattered, I hope they see their day in court.

    8 Martez, that makes no sense whatsoever. And these days unfortunately if you are not with me and upholding my rights (OTW, woman, LGBT…) you are against me.

    8 Steven, thanks and I agree! Hit me with 134M, too, I’ll take that Spanking.

    10 Vera, you’re here now and that’s what matters. My mother was/is a sexist but ever time I talk to her I just have a convo with myself “she doesn’t know what she doesn’t know” and I just nod and smile as if she’s YOUR mother (bc I’m always kind and generous of spirit with anyone else’s parents)

    11 Neto, I can only shake my head at that, it’s the same as women fr trump and wearing shorts saying he can grab my pussy, I mean really wtf? Where is your brain?

    16 Irene, hi : ) and thanks fr handling #13 Mark I couldn’t have said it better!

    24 Rapael, I actually consider being called a bitch a compliment bc it means I’ll say what most will not. I smile and say I’m the nicest B you’ll ever meet and I speak the truth about what I see, for myself and for other women, the ones who cannot fr fear of punishment or death and fr those who are simply stuck behind their veil of society or upbringing or both & bc you just don’t know what you just don’t know. I feel for both types.

    I carefully word how I speak out I’ve learned about back lash and more than once in life about women’s rights and politics, too. I won’t be suppressed but I watch my own back bc I have to. And I know some peeps in public spaces and I have to think of them as well. I could tell you a lot about US & this region but ive been warned, go say what you will about the US, you’re American but do not about CN you are a visitor here and can be sent off anytime.

    I’ll respect that position (for now ; )

    Luv, Zen Lill

  8. Zen Lill Says:

    Sorry * Raphael

  9. Henry Says:

    This white man likes this so here it is again. “I am so tired of white men railing about the fucking government when they ARE the fucking government. White men make up 90% of all the politicians running the government and 98% of all the money influencing those politicians.

    If I may paraphrase Michelle, the logic of these white americans fucking escapes me. You are the fucking government you are railing against. Instead of taking your hatred out on OTWs who aren’t running your government, why don’t you see the problem as it really is and start killing damn incompetent corrupt racist, misogynistic selves.

    For certain the country would be better for it. “

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