Sihanoukville (Khmer Times) – Sihanoukville’s traditional low season has seen a spike in crime, with two rapes for foreign women reported within days of each other.
On May 1, a 22-year-old Australian tourist was raped, allegedly by two waiters of the Waikiki Beach Club at Serendipity beach. On May 6, a Danish woman was raped, reportedly by a motorbike driver.
Despite a well-publicized police crackdown with the arrival of a new police chief here last month, foreign tourists and resident expats report an increasing number of assaults around the city.
Olga Kosenko, 32, who works in Chak Angre KPS Polyclinic, told Khmer Times of the first rape case, involving the Australian.
“The tourist, who was staying with her brother in Monkey Republic, came to our hospital around 3 am,” said Ms. Kosenko, who said she had talked to the victim. “She tried to slash her wrists when she woke up, because she recalled that she had been raped by two men.”
“The victim and her brother certainly are not people who came here to use drugs, “ added Ms. Kosenko. “They are very calm and intelligent.”
Ms. Kosenko said the young woman was alone on Waikiki beach when two local men joined her. She then lost consciousness. When she came to, she found herself in a room at the Waikiki Beach Club, being raped by the two men in turn.
“She returned to Monkey Republic without remembering how,” said Ms. Kosenko. “She didn’t want to stay in a hospital or do a blood test. So she and her brother called an insurance company and left for Phnom Penh early in the morning.”
The following morning, she came back to Waikiki Beach Club with the police. She identified Sarith Sethy, 22, and Kuoy Pov, 17, as the two men who raped. They are were arrested and have been charged with rape.
According to police, the duo confessed to the rape. They said they could not control themselves when they saw the young woman sleeping on the beach.
No Use Going to Police
Mikhail Dudik, 27, a Ukrainian doctor at the Chak Angre KPS Polyclinic, says there were no victims of sexual violence this year until May 1. But there were numerous robberies.
“From the beginning of the year it was rather calm,” he said in an interview. “January quiet. More stressed February. Since March, more and more crimes have followed.”
According to Dr. Dudik, the Danish women arrived at the hospital May 6, claiming that she was punched in the eye, then raped by a motodup driver at 1 am. The driver later left her between Golden Lions and Otres Beach.
“She took a medical assessment and promised to go to the police,” said Dr. Dudik. “She did not want to tell anything to her group and only told them she had been robbed. Just a few people know what happened.”
Dr. Dudik says that only 10 percent of his patients go to the police.
“They say it’s useless,” he said. “Because some of them tried to ask policemen for help right after what happened to them, but the police did nothing.”
Foreigners Attacked with Wooden Clubs
The expat community here is small enough that crimes against foreigners are public knowledge.
In February, two French women were attacked on Otres beach by two Cambodian men wielding clubs. The next morning, a German was similarly attacked in a similar manner on Ekareach Street, the downtown thoroughfare.
In March, a Spanish woman suffered multiple injuries when robbers tried to grab her bag near Golden Lions. On April 8, a Russian woman riding from Victory hill to Sokha beach around midnight was knocked off her motorbike by unidentified men. They first took her bike, but later returned to beat and rob her.
In early May, a British man was relaxing with his girlfriend on Otres beach when a Cambodian man ran out of the forest and stole the woman’s bag. The man tried to persuade the thief to return the bag, but was stabbed several times with scissors. He was later hospitalized in Phnom Penh.
The following week, two young German women on Serendipity beach were attacked. One was punched in the face after two robbers grabbed her bag. Last week, it was the turn of a Canadian journalist who was robbed of his mobile phone and laptop.
Then this Monday night, around midnight, a 29-year-old Russian woman sustained multiple injuries after being robbed of her money and phone not far from Golden Lions.
Restaurant owner Shazia Shah, 30, has heard her fair share of crimes.
“I have been told stories by men who have found themselves in compromising and threatening situations, where alcohol and drugs have been used to lure them,” she said.
Russian tourist Anastasia Gostieva, 33, has been to Sihanoukville five times, but never stays longer than three days before hotfooting it for Phu Quoc island in Vietnam.
“I don’t like Sihanoukville so much as I think it’s too wild, insane and unsafe,” she said. “I don’t trust this place and want to leave as soon as possible. It’s obvious that if you have money, you will be attacked here.”
“I didn’t know about the rapes, so I’m shocked now,” she added. “Anyway, I leave to Vietnam tomorrow.”