When you realize that you are interviewing a gang rapist

AelaCallan, 101 East’s producer, did a very good job in stirring a sensitive social issue, gang rape. What touch me the most from the report is when the reporter looks at the eyes of a man who openly says he lures young girls for gang raping with his friends. I know she was so angry and she has thousand questions wondering in her mind about how does an ordinary, a husband, and a father regularly gang rape women.


Through what she has written, I can clearly understand how difficult she has been facing by interviewinga man who admitted that he gang rapes young women for fun, just for fun. I even felt tense and I don’t think I can do the same if I were her. Shamelessly, the man is a husband and a father of two children. His wife would never know what her husband has been doing and I wonder to what extend his wife can do something against a man like this one.


Cambodia has the highest rate of rape in the region as 101 East reports. The number is a worrying rate.


I understand that there are many underlying reasons of rape, gang rape, and other forms of violence against women. The consequence is so horrifying but we can do something to prevent it. We need tough laws. We need our countrymen to spread and share good acts, loving, respectful attitude toward women. We need to teach our children to be responsible, kind, and respectful. We need women to stand up and advocate for a better, just, and peaceful place to live. We need everyone to give hands in challenging the culture of victim blaming so that victims can have their voice heard and lift their heads high.


This post is a response to a post of 101 East’s report.


Hugs for kindness

Neath and Varakta gave me a hug before they left the hospital where we went to donate some money to a sick comedian. I was so delighted to receive their hugs and they were very special as if my children were sending a valuable message to me. Later, I realised that I know why.

On 7th March 2013, I saw an article in Koh Santepheap newspaper, a local news. It wrote about a comedian well known for her stage name, Yeay Kley. It reports that she has been sick and very poor.  Usually, such stories are regularly filled in newspapers and it seems that it is a very normal phenomenon. However, I feel uncomfortable seeing the photo. In the photo provided by the news indicates how distressed and depressed the woman is. She was crying over the money donated by her fellow singers. Immediately, I show the picture to my parent and they were surprised and said ‘that is why we haven’t seen her on stage in the last couple of weeks’.

A few moments later, I decided to do something for her. I wanted to raise some money. Initially, I thought at least I could raise $50. I believe that even $20 could help a person with a few day expenses. Then, I started writing on social network (face book) to let my friends know and asked them to contribute. Within three days, I raised 195$. I was so happy.

On 12th March 2013, I and my family including two of my children and a nephew came to the donation. My parents initially worried that the three children would not stay still and that they will interrupt our activities. Instead, the kids behaved too well. They sat down and just watched. After telling her the purpose of my presence, I gave her the money and told her names of the contributors. Suddenly, she became tearful. It was very hard to me as well to control my emotion. I let her continue by padding her right arm many times. She thanked all of her donors. She expressed how she was too excited because of the kindness of strangers whom she never met before. She wishes all the people happiness and healthy.

I also reminded her that I used to work with her when I was working for World Vision Cambodia. We used to invite comedian Choung Chi and his team which Yeay Kley is one of them to perform a number of education scenes at Siem Reap and Preah Sihanouk Vill.

After taking a few photos to show the donors, we wished her and said good bye. I sent a message from a friend who wishes to see her on stage in the near future. She was tearful again as if she is not sure whether she can continue her career. I noticed something good.

Neath, my three year old daughter, rarely Sampeah (an act used to greet) anyone except monks. This time she did a sampeah and I was amazed. After that my two children gave me a big hug as if they want to give me a reward of what I had done that day. Importantly, I felt that their hugs are more than just thank for my kindness but a thank for teaching them about being kind to people in need.

Thank you for my friends who are in Australia (Kanika Kok, Tak Chanpanha & Yim Vymala), in the United States (Hout Kimlin, Ly Samnang & Ly Sampi), and in Cambodia (Sim Socheata, Bo Vibol, and one more who wishes not be named).

Questions women ask me the most

As an Australian Development Scholarship awardee, I was inspired by families and friends especially women with children. Most of the time they ask me how can you do to handle your study while you are a mum (of two) and a wife?

To answer, I just made it easy. I only told them that I just spend more time at night to do my assignments. The next question is how can I stay alert if i don’t sleep enough. I, then,  explain that I need coffee to help me. I don’t say that coffee is best but I admit that it is helpful.

Many potential women I met complaint that they can not study anymore because they have children. That is not true. That’s not true at all. I have two children myself. I decided to bring them with me at Australia. Although it is difficult but I appreciate the time I spent with them. That was their smile that pushed me forward. It was their accompany that make me want to achieve my higher education. It was too tough to be a mum, a wife, an international student where English is my second language, but I always cling to hope. I hope that I can achieve something little by little. Although I didn’t manage to get highest score, I managed to accomplished my education.

The Captured Khmer Rouge soldiers in the early 80s


There was a match one day. It was happened in the early 80s at Pursat province. It was not a simple match but a killing match. My parents tried to bar me from viewing the scene as they knew that it was not good for me to see such horrible act. Unfortunately, there attempt to prevent me from watching was failed. And here is the story of what I had seen.


There were about a hundred of people. They were matching behind about twenty captured Khmer Rouge soldiers. The dying solders were half naked. They wore black, town pants. Their hands were tied to their back with strong yellow robes. They were also walking with barefoot. I bet they knew that they were walked to their death. The people who walked behind them carry any weapons they would find. Some carried knife, axes, hammers and maybe guns. I was told by my parents that they were going to kill those captured soldiers. I asked why? They told that because Khmer Rouge killed millions of people during their years. That was the reason why they kill those soldiers to take revenge.


It seems to me the image is always with me. I wish it would go away.

Fear and Fun: Childhood

My mum was pregnant with my late youngest sister in 1983. Dad took her to Phnom Penh, the Capital City, to prepare for the delivery. They left my younger brother and me with an uncle who stayed with us. He was in his early 20s at that time.

At that time, there was frequent fighting between the Cambodian government’s soldiers and the remaining Pol Pot’s soldiers. In Pursat province, especially, it became a habit to have dinner at 4pm because we did not know when the Pol Pot’s soldiers might attack our village. The early dinner would help us to go into hiding without starvation. Occasionally, the Pol Pot’s soldiers came to villages to take rice, food, and weapons.

One night, while my parents were in Phnom Penh,fire was exchanged between soldiers from both sides. When we heard the first shot, my uncle, my brother and I woke up. We knew immediately what was happening and where to go. I clung to my uncle’s neck while he grabbed my brother. He rushed to the wooden step which was about 10m above the ground. While he made his way across the step I heard his laugh which confused me because I did not expect that he would laugh in such a frightening situation.

As soon as he reached the ground, he crawled into our protecting zone, the stronghold which was right under the step. It was cold down there. I am not sure whether I was scared or not but I remember how eager I was to have a look at the flying fire which ran quickly from both directions.

Many years later while writing this, I still hear the sound of the battle field. Since it happened so often, I grew used to it and was not too scared. That is why I could enjoy watching the fire.

After it became quiet, we understood that the fighting was over. However, we would wait at least another 30 minutes to make sure that it really stopped and it was safe to go home again. Then we went up and continued our sleep.

The next morning, my uncle told me something which I remember until now. He said, “Mom (my nickname) next time please do not cling to my neck because it is my most sensitive area. I laughed and then I understood why he laughed when I grabbed his neck.

I told my tutor my story at our lunchtime meeting.  She opened her eyes widely and said “it was such a scary childhood you had”. I did not agree with her though. For some reason, the fighting of that night did not make me scared at all but I could not really explain why.

My First Bike

My parents bought me a new bike when I was a fifth grader. I was so happy to have it. Before having the bike I used to walk about 2 km from my house to school everyday.

The first day I rode the bike was the final exam announcing day. There was a meeting at Pursat Primary School where every 5th graders were expected to attend. The aim of the meeting was to announce the result of the exam. At that time, there were no writing on papers with your names with pass or fail but was to announce with a loud speaker by a school teacher. For those who didn’t hear their names meant they failed and were expected to study the same grade next year. So, it was not a normal day.

To attend the meeting, I came early. I parked my bike at a big tree nearby the meeting which was taking place at a big space under a big tree. It was also easier for me to keep my sight on it. I guessed everyone was very excited as we sat down obediently and quietly trying to listen for our names. We were so afraid of the teachers at that time. Fortunately, I heard my name and i was so happy. I thought my parents made the right decision to buy me the bike as a reward for passing the exam.

There were both laughs and tears for those who passed and failed. For me, I didn’t remember much about what I had done after the meeting but I walked home happily with a big smile on my face. It was my first state exam to pass primary school to study at element school so it was a very big day for my life. I remembered how I talk to myself on how I should tell my parents about this good news. The walk was quicker than usual I guess. That might be due to the happiness and the success I have had experienced. I expected that my parents could not wait to ask for my result from my own mouth and I expected a pleasant and proud smile from both of them.

Unfortunately, things were not like I expected. Instead of showing me the faces I wanted to see, my mum yelled “WHERE IS YOUR BIKE?”

Without saying a word, I ran as quickly as I could. I was very frightened like hell. It was almost dark when I arrived there. Well, good news was still good news as I saw my bike alone at its original place. Finally, it was a late good news as I only told my parents about my news after I arrived for the second time.

I was about 10 or 11 years old at that time so it was more than 20 years ago but I still remember how I forgot my first bike.:)

My cat Alex!

I like cats. I knew it as long as I remember when I was a young kid. I was told by my mother not to play closely with cats or they would cause plasma. I never cared. I felt so good to play with them or even sleep with them through the night.

When I left home to study at college, I missed my cat very much. To cope with it, I have raised a lady cat named Alex. She was a little beauty, tailless cat. She liked to be cuddled as normal cats do. One day, Alex appeared to look like she was pregnant. I was not surprised. Due to I love her very much, I gave her every meal I had. Days passed and her tummy grew bigger. She seemed less active than before. She spent most of her time sleeping.

One day I don’t remember when, Alex ran to me with tearful eyes as we always looked into the eyes for communication. I feel something must be urgent and she needed my help. Yes, Alex was on the way to delivery her babies. I was to frighten! I didn’t know what to do and Alex kept running forward and backward and that caused me more trouble. I wished she would stop her unrest movement.

Luckily, I found my small wardrobe for her to deliver her offspring. I thought she would stay there until she has finished her process and I walked away. Again this little lady cat ran out and stopped me and started to yell at me. Didn’t know what to do, I sat by her again and waited her until she painfully gave birth to her four cute kittens. I was so delight to become a midwife for my cat. And it was end of my business and left her to read books.

Not long, Alex came again with frightening eyes. She bit my toes. It didn’t hurt but she made me angry. She just sat at the end of my bed and went nowhere. She kept crying and yelling at me (That was how I felt). I ran out of my patient and I yelled at her “What’s wrong with you?”She suddenly turned her back to me but still sat there crying. Later, I changed my mind so I dropped my books and got up from my bed. Immediately, Alex led my way. I followed her who kept turning back to see if I walk after her.

Then I knew that Alex needed my help to tell my girl friends to stay away from new born babies. The girls who were so curious to see the new born kitten, picked them up and had a look and another one came and did the same thing. I could feel the pain Alex felt about it. As a gentle cat, she could do nothing to keep these people to stay away for her offspring and that was why she came to me to ask for my help again. I angrily told the girls not to touch them or they would make the young kitten sick. They understood and left. Now Alex was alone again with her cute kittens and ready to nurse them.

Alex had taught me something! One thing is animals can make a trusted communication with human and they love their kids as humans do. Ten years ago but I still remember that day vividly.