A 33-year-old clothes vendor was arrested on Sunday for allegedly beating and torturing her under-age domestic maid.
Major Chey Sovann, deputy chief of Por Senchey district police, said the victim, 16, was from a poor family in Oddar Meanchey province’s Anlong Veng district.
Meng Rath Pisey of Chom Chao 2 commune hired the girl to live with her as a maid.
“She beat and tortured her for about four years,” he said. “She forced her to work hard from the earlier morning until late at night.”
“The hard evidence was the scars from wounds on the victim’s body, legs, hands and face,” he added.
He said the suspect was arrested on Sunday evening after police raided Ms Rath Pisey’s house.
She was arrested in accordance with a complaint filed by the victim. After her arrest, police rescued the victim from the house.
Police first learned about the abuse from reports by neighbours and others who had often seen the suspect beating the victim.
The girl said she was brought by Ms Rath Pisey to live with her and her family in Phnom Penh when she was 12-years-old. She said she had been promised $60 per month.
“But since I worked and lived with her, I received only $100 in total,” the girl said. “I received it when my father was sick. I asked for the money from her to send to my parents to buy medicine.”
The girl said that while she stayed with Ms Rath Pisey, her work included cooking, house cleaning, clothes washing, driving Ms Rath Pisey’s daughter around the capital, and helping Ms Rath Pisey sell her clothes.
“She beat and tortured me almost every day for about four years,” she said. “I worked very hard every day and night for her. But she was not pleased with me. She always blamed me, cursed me and looked down on me as a slave.”
“She always beat and tortured me,” she reiterated. “She took a piece of steel to beat me without reason. Sometimes, she took a needle to stab my body and caused me great pain and injury.”
She said that every time she was beaten, Ms Rath Pisey prohibited her from telling her mother or anyone else.
“If I had stolen her money or her property and she had beaten me, I would not be complaining,” she added. “But she beat me without reason and just did it to reduce her temper.”
The girl added that she was not allowed to meet her parents or phone them, and was threatened with death if she reported the abuse.
A district police officer, who asked not to be named, said the suspect denied the allegations when questioned.
“Though she denied the allegations, based on the scars on the victim’s body, she could not avoid being charged by the court,” he said. “She was preliminarily accused by police with acts of intentional violence with aggravating circumstances and torture. She faces up to five years in prison if convicted.”
Ms Rath Pisey was detained for questioning and further investigation at the police station and will be sent to Phnom Penh Municipal Court for questioning today.
The victim has been sent to stay temporarily at a rehabilitation centre in Phnom Penh.
Last week, Prime Minister Hun Sen called on all homeowners to treat their maids better and bring their working conditions in line with those enjoyed by garment workers.
Mr Hun Sen said that all homeowners should understand the plights faced by maids and help to improve their livelihoods.
He added that all homeowners should be more respectful toward their maids and offer them the same time off that garment workers get.