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Sihanoukville - Two Rapes in 3 Days Reveal Resort’s Dark Side

SIHANOUKVILLE (Khmer Times) – The coastal city of Sihanoukville is one which is working hard to tackle its demons and lay ghosts to rest. It is also a city that still wears two faces. 

One is the face of an idyllic seaside community that attracts thousands of mostly satisfied visitors every year to its relaxing beaches. The other face can be menacing and the hostility can be shocking.  

Encountering this side of Sihanoukville can have tragic consequences, as events in recent weeks have shown.
First Rape 

In the early afternoon of July 20, Jane, a tourist, went to Victory Beach for a walk along the sand and a dip in the sea.   

She greeted a couple of other travellers and noticed a handful of security guards dozing nearby in the shade. Despite the warm weather, the beach was almost empty.

From Victory Beach she strolled towards Hawaii Beach, the low tide allowing her to walk without having to climb over rocks. Jane stopped to swim and relaxed on the soft sand for a while. 

Returning to Victory Beach, she was approached by a shirtless Khmer man wearing a distinctive red and green chequered mask, a black baseball cap and ragged shorts. 

“He grabbed me around the throat and started strangling me,” she recalled. 

Jane screamed but her cries were not heard. She screamed again and he throttled her until she could hardly breath, let alone make a sound. He then smashed Jane on the head with a rock until she fell to the ground where he violently raped her.

When finished, the rapist emptied her bag, apparently disgusted by the small amount of cash the victim was carrying, and ran towards Victory Beach. 

The police report of the crime, filed with the assistance of local tourism officials, makes for painful reading. Police say they are investigating but have no suspects. Jane received medical treatment and has now left Cambodia. 

Second Rape

Three days later, a young Australian woman was travelling back to Otres Beach from Serendipity in a tuk-tuk in the early hours of the morning when she fell asleep. 

She awoke to find herself partially undressed in an unknown location. Her driver was raping her.  

In both cases, local expatriates arranged for the women to get emergency medical treatment from a European doctor, a skilled gynaecologist, in downtown Sihanoukville. 

“When the patient [Jane] arrived here, she was terrified,” her doctor told Khmer Times. “She had been injured by vicious blows to the head and required stitches. She also needed magnesium injections to calm her down because she was so traumatized.” 

Both women were also given treatment for sexually transmitted diseases and advised they should be tested for HIV over the next six months. (There is a “window period” between the time HIV infection and the time a test detects it that can last up to six months, according to the San Francisco Aids Foundation.)

Surge in Violence

This community has been shocked by other acts of extreme violence in recent weeks, not least of which was the brutal execution of Denis Goncharov, whose killer remains at large. 

Medical staff at a single small Sihanoukville clinic showed Khmer Times pictures of a Ukrainian man who was drugged, beaten, and had his motorcycle stolen. Days later, an Australian man was given emergency treatment for head injuries after being attacked by his motorcycle taxi driver. 

In the same week, English and Canadian tourists were hospitalized after being beaten and robbed at a bar on Ochueteul Beach. 

Despite the apparent ongoing concern of crime linked to Russians, all of the incidents were Cambodian nationals attacking foreigners – except for the murder of Mr. Goncharov – and all happened in recent weeks. 

While petty crime has possibly decreased recently, the number of reported violent crimes has risen, ongoing investigations by Khmer Times reveal.  
The first months of this year, April and May especially, also saw disturbing acts of violence here – including at least two rapes and multiple serious assaults – by Cambodian assailants.  

What is alarming many local expatriate residents here is that they believe police are not tackling the crimes effectively. 

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