Woman in Cambodia sentenced to 4.5 years jail for lesbian sex with ‘minor’

Rights workers and members of Cambodia’s nascent gay community say the case is an example of homophobia as a 20-year-old woman was sentenced to jail based on falsified documents submitted to the court identifying the “victim” as 14 years old.

A 20-year-old woman has been sentenced to four and a half years behind bars for having sex with her “underaged” girlfriend, the Phnom Penh Post reported last Thursday.

According to the report, Phlong Srey Rann maintained her innocence and claimed that the case against her had been concocted by her girlfriend’s family, who objected to their same-sex relationship.

The former factory worker was quoted as saying that on August 10, 2011, her girlfriend’s brother had filed a complaint that she was illegally detaining his sister. The police then arrested and accused the former of illegal detention and human trafficking, Phlong explained.

In November, she was convicted in court of having sexual intercourse with a “minor” and was sentenced her to five years in prison.

Phlong claims her girlfriend’s family had provided falsified documents to the court identifying their daughter as only 14 years old, making her only 13 when she started working at the factory as the pair had reportedly been together for more than a year. Cambodian labour law requires that factory workers be 18 or older.

A spokeperson from the shoe factory the pair worked at told the newspaper that it “only hires girls that are 18 and above” and a birth certificate and identification card was required for each employee.

Copies of Phlong’s girlfriend’s birth certificate and family book submitted to the factory and obtained by the Post show that she was born on March 9, 1992, which would make her 19 at the time of Phlong Srey Rann’s arrest. Cambodia does not have laws against same-sex relations.

Rights workers and members of Cambodia’s nascent gay community say the case is an example of homophobia exacerbated by the country’s weak judicial system. Lim Matharon, the presiding judge in the case, could not be reached for comment. Chan Reasey Pheak, Phlong’s court-appointed lawyer, told the paper she was no longer involved in the case and refused to comment.

Phlong reportedly plans to appeal the court’s decision, but at this point has no lawyer and is more concerned about her family, who depended on her monthly wage of US$61.

Update (Feb 2, 2011): When contacted by Fridae, activist Srun Srorn of Rainbow community Kampuchea (RoCK) said the group is in contact with Phlong and is working with the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) to seek legal aid. Donations are not being sought at this time.

by News Editor
Source – Fridae