Man lands in court over sexual assault at quarantine site

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A suspected in an alleged sexual assault against a minor at a quarantine centre in Banteay Meanchey province’s O’Chrou district has been sent to court. POLICE

A suspected in an alleged sexual assault against a minor at a quarantine centre in Banteay Meanchey province’s O’Chrou district has been sent to court, while a similar case against an adult woman at the same centre was dropped after the accused negotiated compensation with her.

The incidents happened at Kaub Thom secondary school, which has been converted into a quarantine facility.

O’Chrou district deputy police chief Mann Thy told The Post on September 14 that the girl and the woman were sharing a room in quarantine.

He said the charges against the suspect accused of assaulting the woman were dropped after both parties’ families agreed to settle the matter outside of formal legal channels. The other suspect, however, has been sent to court because his victim was a minor.

“The one case involved an 11-year-old girl. The suspect has already confessed to the abuse,” he said.

He identified the suspect as an 18-year-old from Pursat province, whereas his victim was from Kampong Chhnang province. Both are migrant workers returning from Thailand who were required to undergo quarantine for two weeks.

Banteay Meanchey Provincial Hall spokeswoman Ros Sophany told The Post it was disappointing that such immoral acts had occurred in the quarantine centre despite the authorities’ education and outreach efforts and that the authorities had no choice but to go forward with prosecution.

In April, 24 civil society organisations (CSO) issued a joint statement calling on relevant authorities to pay greater attention to the prevention of harassment, sexual abuse and violence against women during quarantine and in locked down areas.

The CSO’s joint statement raised concerns about the frequent occurrence of sexual harassment and abuse of women and children while they are essentially trapped in lockdown areas or in quarantine centres where they may be at an increased vulnerability to predators.