Monthly Archives: October 2015

Acid attack among young people due to premarital sex?

Unofficial Translation from The Phnom Penh Post’s Khmer edition
TUESDAY, 6 OCTOBER 2015,
TONG SOPRACH

តើយុវវ័យហ៊ានជះទឹកអាស៊ីតដាក់គ្នា បណ្តាលមកពីការរួមភេទមុនថ្ងៃរៀបការ?

A young man victim suffered from acid attack by his former girlfriend last week, Phnom Penh.  PHOTO SUPPLY

A young man victim suffered from acid attack by his former girlfriend last week, Phnom Penh. PHOTO SUPPLY

Acid attack, a form of gender-based violence, in Cambodia’s society, in general, it happens during a triangle love when a wife becomes jealous of her husband who she thinks is perhaps involved in any young girls or an actress. She may vent her anger by using acid to attack.

However, the people involved in the acid attack in the previous week were all in their teens as former sweetheart, which seems unusual since the common ways to settle love dispute among teenagers are brawling against the third person or suicide.

So, why did they use that acid attack?

Young love is the thing of nature, everyone knows that. Yet, the question is what degree of their love? It just says “love” or reaches sex before married?
Simply if young people just say “I love you”, they changed their minds to break up of they fall in love. The couple is only a little bit pain and then they get better soon because no one lose virginity or cheated. But if young people fall in love and become involved in sex before marriage and then one of the partner, who is cheated and walked away without missing, their partner becomes very painful and shameful. In Cambodia’s context, on some occasion, the suffering partner would choose to commit suicide or while some of them would do anything for revenge to the wrong doer.

Based on my research paper for my master’s degree in Public Health in 2008 on the impacts of premarital sex among young people in Cambodia, most relationships are driven to their end by the men, causing the women to suffer from broken hearts and lead to revenge their partner later. Such as the term of “Prean Neary” (woman hunter) refers to a young man has a lot of experience to having sex before marriage with different women. And sometimes accompanied with mocking the term “Mahop Del Ker” The comparison of foods which were eaten refers to a woman who was penetrated and does not have anyone to get married with (Tarr, 1996). These are the possible cause that pushes the women to seek revenge through various forms of violence.

On the other hand, impact of premarital sex is also the root cause of many other deviances such as unwanted pregnancy, young males called his peers to rape his girlfriend when he wanted to break up and even human trafficking.

This is the roots cause of love relationship among young people, but the use of violent means, such as acid attack, is not the practical solution in dealing with love disputes which types of an act of homicide or attempted murder by implementing the Acid Law was enacted in Cambodia since 2012 and its sub-decree on the Formalities and Conditions for Strong Acid Control was passed to implement the law since 2013. As example: acid attack case in March this year, the perpetrator was sentenced in life in prison due to the victim’s death.

According to this law and its sub-degree, the penalties are severe for homicide and attempted murder. The offenders could be sentenced to from 15 to 30 year or even life in prison. Also, the people who do not have license to buy, sell, and carry acid (over the limitation of strong acid amount) will be heavily fined, up to from 20 million to 50 million riels.

In the previous week’s acid attack, the girl, the 21-year-old and translator, who doused her ex-boyfriend, the 20-year-old and student, with acid while driving his motorbike and she seated behind, was also slightly injured and brought to a hospital or a private clinic.
Helping for the medical treatment immediately is an important, but it is not clear why the police or any authority did not arrested that girl immediately? Or did they have any sort of settlement with the hospital or private clinic to which she was brought? How could she leave that hospital or private clinic and post a mocking photo on Facebook? Because this is legally considered a crime, the hand of offender must be handcuffed even allowing her to receive first-aide as human-being, but not letting her go like that.

With this case, the police have to investigate and arrest the offender to bring her to the court for persecution. The penalty should be heavy, in accordance with the criminal and acid laws, to set an example to warn all other young people. Meanwhile, if any private clinic or hospital conceals the offender, they must also face certain enforcement measure by hiding the offender or not cooperating with authority.

This is a lesson learned about what we can do in order to address this case, to raise awareness for teenagers to think clearly about any consequence before deciding to be involved in sexual intercourse with their lovers before getting married.

Because sexual relationship does not appear outside activity and make many people feeling shy or consider sexual affairs embarrassing and afraid to talk about due to it is very sensitive and dangerous. There are many people who become angry, jealous, and hateful, which in turn, lead to violence or even murder by acid attack, shooting and so on due to sexual involvement.

Therefore, the best way to solve this matter, is for young people to be absolutely clear about the consequences of their decision before sexual intercourse.

Tong Soprach is a social-affairs columnist for the Post’s Khmer edition.

Comments: soprach.tong@phnompenhpost.com

 

Gangsters plus snatching lead to danger to life!

Unofficial Translation from The Phnom Penh Post’s Khmer edition
TUESDAY, 1 SEPTEMBER 2015,
TONG SOPRACH

យុវជនទំនើងនៅតែបង្កគ្រោះថ្នាក់ដល់អាយុជីវិតដោយសារឆក់កាបូប

Two young men were arrested by snatching a necklace of foreigner near Kandal market, Phnom Penh, 26 August 2015. Photo: NATIONAL POLICE

Two young men were arrested by snatching a necklace of foreigner near Kandal market, Phnom Penh, 26 August 2015. Photo: NATIONAL POLICE

From the period of the change from socialism to capitalism in 1990, people have discovered new ways to modernize their life, to live a deluxe life filled with luxuries and joys although it means exploitation, corruption, or theft and robbery. Especially, young people who generally love having more and more to spend and enjoy their lives but have no job or do not want to work, they are likely to be involved in crimes and offenses, such as stealing or snatching phones, bags, and necklaces, the quickest and easiest means to get money to fulfill their daily desires.

Snatching happens every day in towns, especially various places along the streets in Phnom Penh, causing fear for everyone in the city. They complain that they no longer dare to travel anywhere with valuable things. In general, those snatchers trace their targets from the starting points. Their main targets are those people with jewels, handbags, mobile phones, cameras and other modern devices who just take part in or left the party, wedding, or other ceremonies, and foreigners.

The losses of their things, of course, are upsetting for the victims, but apart from that, they could face many other dangers such as torn or bleeding ears which result from their earing snatched and the head damage occurring when the victims fall from their vehicles after their struggle with the snatchers trying to take their handbags, which could lead to immediate death.

For example, in the previous week, a female year-5 medical student was killed in the early morning when her head hit the ground after a couple of gangsters on a motorbike trying to snatch her bag, causing her to fall from her motorbike. That was not the first death caused the snatchers; many died the same way. Yet, the police have not been able to deal with that effectively. So what are they waiting for?

Meanwhile, the police officers in Preah Sihanouk province are sending two young men, charged with snatching bag, to the court. By the way, in the previous, sometime unbelievable that one of snatchers, who was a college student, confessed at the police station in Sangkat Sras Chork, Daun Penh Destrict, after they were caught by the local people. The questions are “How could young men turn into snatcher? Are they aware of the possible danger they could cause for either themselves or their victim targets? How are they related to the police?”

The answers to those questions could be found in the research report on the behaviors and experience of gangsters in violence, rape, drug and theft (GAD/C, 2003). I, myself, participated in the research and interviewed the youth gangs who used to be involved in those offenses. A key question appeared then: what are the sources of fund you and your team get from for activity?

The answer was gotten from the interview of the youngsters were similar. They started by stealing money from their parents (around 400-500 USD). Then, they would mortgage or sell their things such as motorbikes, jewels, and mobile phones.

When they ran out of things to sell or mortgage, they started stealing and snatching jewel, bags, mobile phones, and computers. The money from those evil deeds would be used on parties, night club, prostitution or Bauk (gang rape), drugs, and gambling. The ones who were professional or so-called experts (a bad title, I guess) assured that they would just snatch the things they want and let nothing happen to the owners. They mocked “unskilled snatcher” for ripping the necklaces or for causing the owners to fall or die in traffic.

However, they would never forget to give some money at least 50 USD to the police officers stationed in the place in which they do their dirty job. As they claimed, those officers always knew what they were doing. When the snatchers were chased by the police officers, their strategy to escape is just drive as fast as possible to leave those officers’ authorized area.

Through that way, they would be safe, at least for now. Nevertheless, these so-called experts were also aware that they would be badly hurt or dead when they were caught by the people. The anger of the victims and the motor-taxi and Tuk-Tuk drivers whose clients were the victims cause them to beat the snatchers, with whatever they have in hands: sticks, pipes or even mallets.

So far, there have been so many cases of mob-killing due to the people’s lack of confidence in the police and the court. This action, nevertheless, is against the law while the people involved could face prosecution.

That is, what should the government do to prevention the possible death or handicap and to protect the foreign tourists from snatching by the gangster? How can it pull our youth away from this deviance? In fact, our prison is not even big enough to jail all those snatchers. Giving the burden of gangsters and snatchers to the police alone is not a long-term effective measure. The youth-related problems are too big in size and thus require preventive measures rather than instant interventions.

For example, what has the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport done to deal with these problem? Nearly everywhere in Phnom Penh as well as the other cities and provinces, you will find bars, night clubs, KTV and casino around youths and schools. Furthermore, there are transactions of drug among young people, happening anywhere in the country.

How about the National Youth Council? Has it done anything such as recreational and sport site and education center for young people in respond to National Youth Development Policy? To what extent has it dealt with youth’s unemployment effectively? Based on the research report of the Youth Coalition for Unity and Development (YCUD, 2015) “49 percent of Khmer youths raised unemployment as their main concern.”

The problems mentioned above are the main factors which cause the youth to become involved in such crimes and deviances. The police should do the research and the investigation about the current root of youth-related problems, which have bad negative impacts on the society and tourism rather than arrest the offenders just to be released and return to their dirty jobs. Sadly, some youth associations/organizations/federations/unions have not been participated in solving these problems but exploit them for political advantages.

 
Tong Soprach is a social-affairs columnist for the Post’s Khmer edition.

Comments: soprach.tong@phnompenhpost.com

The Youth Ministry Barely Does Anything to Solve the Youths’ Problems

Unofficial Translation from The Phnom Penh Post’s Khmer edition
TUESDAY, 25 AUGUST 2015,
TONG SOPRACH

ក្រសួងយុវជនមិនបានដោះស្រាយបញ្ហាយុវជនជាដុំកំភួនទេ

A young man commits to change his behavior through sealing of a slogan “Kea Kluon Deumbei Mak Pa!” “I will change myself for my parents!” on his motorbike last week, Phnom Penh.

A young man commits to change his behavior through sealing of a slogan “Kea Kluon Deumbei Mak Pa!” “I will change myself for my parents!” on his motorbike last week, Phnom Penh. Photo: TONG SOPRACH

Because the Ministry of Education, Youths, and Sport is often referred to in shorthand as “The Ministry of Education”, it appears that the other two focuses, “youth” and “sports”, are neglected. While the sport sector seems to have improved due to the division of control and management among the sport field federations and the existence of the National Olympic Committee (responsible for organizing national and international sport events), the dramatically expanding issues affecting youths have not had sufficient contributors or financial donations, nor have they had received much attention from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports. Therefore, this poses the question of whether a separated “Ministry of Youth” should be created to deal with young people’s development and problems?

Youth-related problems are expanding so rapidly that the ministry appears unable to cope with them, despite the fact that they are divided in term of control and responsibility between the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports and the Ministry of Social Affairs in its youth rehabilitation department. On the website of the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, it is not surprising to see the abundance of education-related activities, yet there are so few youth-related ones. In the Ministry, there are only two departments mandated to work with youth: the Department of Youth and the Department of Centre Management.

The only action to benefit youth is the provision of the opportunity to young people to obtain a scholarship to study abroad and participate in exchange programmes and short courses sponsored by the other countries, especially ASEAN members and its partners. In the Boy Scouts (Kayarith), ironically, the leading roles, which are supposed to belong to young people, are played by the aging senior government officials. A similar thing also occurs in the Cambodian National Youth Councils, where only small roles are given to youth.

How can young people develop if old people do not give them any opportunities to take part in leadership positions? And, if the senior government officers do attempt to provide youths with empowerment opportunities, these are almost exclusively reserved for their own children, a clear sign of nepotism.

Meanwhile, some people have founded associations and federations that work to promote youth, although it means they have to organize a protest or demonstration – for example, that of Mr. Soth Dyna, Cambodia’s current ambassador of the Republic of Korea (South Korea). However, when these people receive high positions or achieve their goals, it seems they inevitably lose their commitment and end up paying little heed to youth issues.         All they are then keen on is maintaining their place and privileges.

Moreover, according to the 2008 census, the people who are between 15 and 30 years old of age make up 33 percent of the whole population, and most of these have the right to vote. That is, many politicians have been attempting and competing to exploit the youth for political benefits.

Occasionally, the ruling party (CPP) criticizes some youth associations, which support     the opposition parties, for being anti-government. In response, the opposition party (CNRP) has attacked the government for standing behind the government-backed youth association/NGO/federation and using them for political purposes.

Although the law states that civil society cannot participate in the politics, politicians are still attempting to gain the support of the youth. Sometimes, it is themselves who are      the leaders of youth associations. For example, Mr. Hun Many [PM Hun Sen’s son], CPP parliamentarian, is the President of Union of Youth Federation of Cambodia (UYFC) while its branch in Phnom Penh is led by the Mr. Say Samal [The Senate President Say Chhum’s son], the Minister of Environment, and the branch in Prey Veng by Mr. Sor Sokha [Deputy-PM Sor Kheng’s son], CPP parliamentarian as well.

Yet, the problems faced by today’s young people are still not effectively dealt with.      These problems include unemployment, emigration, gang violence, gambling, drug abuses, alcoholism, robbery, gang rape (Bauk), lack of recreation and sport sites and         so on. On the news, you will hear about these problems happening all over the country.

According to the research report on youth concerns in 2015 by Youth Coalition for Unity and Development (YCUD, 2015), which was submitted to the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, 49 percent of Cambodian youth have raised unemployment as their main concern. How about the large number of students who failed their Bac II Examination? What should they do for a living? Does the ministry have any strategy or policy, which could assist them?

Obviously, the lack of labor market and the low incomes have pushed young people in    the country to come from rural areas or emigrate to the cities and to abroad; both legal and illegal migrations for job opportunities, which make them vulnerable to dangers and sexual exploitation. Most of them have to do it although they have to be away from their families, or they will starve.

Furthermore, in the website of the National Police, we see the combative actions against drug users, most of whom are young men and women, and drug dealers. Today, there are  a lot of young drug users in all parts of the country, even among the indigenous minority people. In simple words, drugs are seemingly on their way towards becoming part of everyday life for Cambodia’s young people. Based on the report of the Ministry of Interior, drug-related cases have increased by 150 percent in the past six months, compared to     the same period in the previous year.

In some cases, tones of drugs were discovered, and the dealers are from many countries. Surprisingly, the transactions even take place in prison. In that way, the prison, so to speak, is not big enough for those drug evils. In the meantime, the money to be spent on those prisoners will be a burden for the government.

So what will the future of our youth turn out to be? What can they do to build this small country? How they protect their motherland if they are longing for drugs, which will gradually destroy themselves? What should the government do to get rid of those evils?

Drug abuse, alcohol, and gambling have been the main factors plaguing youth, getting them involved in crimes such as theft, robbery, and violence. Along the street, in                the public, you will see these happen every day. Young people harming or even killing one another, showing no sympathy or remorse.

Many evil gangsters commit gang rape, with the majority of the victim are the women working in entertainment services. Often, gang rape can turn into murder. For example, In July, a woman was brutally raped and killed, and her body was left naked somewhere near Ang Ta Minh Pagoda, located in Por Senchey District of Phnom Penh.

Since the sites where young people can meet and play sports are almost all sold out to private investors, they have increased chances of getting involving in the types of crimes mentioned above.

The government, particularly the Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports, seems unable to cope with these youth-related problems, nor can it respond to the National Policy for Youth Development. Considering the size of the problems, another institution, the Ministry of Youth and Youth Rehabilitation should be created, one separate from the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sports and the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veteran and Youth Rehabilitation.

Such action will indicate a real focus on youth development, not the meaningless promises only found on paper or heard from the mouths of the “deceiving politicians”, whose actions are completely different from such words but would say anything to gain support.

Nevertheless, there has been some progress in rehabilitation of drug-addicted young people in the Police Military Center in Bantey Meanchey province. Some have been doing their best in changing and improving themselves. However, I once saw a message on a young man’s motorbike license plate, which said “Kea Kluon Deumbei Mak Pa!” “I will change myself for my parents!”

Tong Soprach is a social-affairs columnist for the Post’s Khmer edition.

Comments: soprach.tong@phnompenhpost.com