An analysis of a DC Cam report on rape in DK
In number 15, March 2001, of the Documentation Center journal, Searching for the Truth [in Khmer],The Center's director, Chhang Youk wrote, page 1, that the Center had records showing at least 156 cases of rape by Khmer Rouge cadres, and that those cadres had not been punished by "elimination", but that on the contrary many of the women, after being raped, had been eliminated on the grounds that they had served the CIA, the KGB, or were 'enemies'.
The documents to which Chhang Youk referred have been compiled in English summary form by Tieng Sopheak Vichea in a volume entitled "Sexual Abuse Cases Under the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) Regime", Phnom Penh, May 1999.
This volume contains summaries of 156 files, all but 3 apparently dossiers of prison confessions, and of those all but 4 confessions by Democratic Kampuchea personnel; and in the dossiers 290 cases of 'sexual offences', as defined by Khmer Rouge morality rules, are listed. In the summaries of each case, except one, there are 'perpetrators' (men) and 'victims' (women). A breakdown of the cases into categories of offences, confessed, alleged, or hearsay, does not support the statement made by Chhang Youk, nor even the title of the volume of English summaries.
Under the rules of Khmer Rouge morality, any sexual activity outside of marriages which they recognized was considered an offence. The Khmer term for illegal, according to their rules, consensual sex, including flirtation without bodily contact, or sometimes even too friendly conversation between a man and a woman, was khoh ['wrong'] silathoa ['morality'], or in plain English, 'immorality'. This was distinguished from rape, romlop.
In analyzing the 290 cases in the 156 files, we must first note that not all of the 153 persons who had been arrested and whose confessions, plus three other documents, these files constitute, were charged with rape or immorality. Most of them had been arrested for political crimes, treason, sabotage, etc.; and the tales of rape and immorality came out in the course of their confessions. Since in such confessions they had to relate all of their activities over a period of years, they spoke of their friends and associates, and related the peccadilloes, real or alleged, of those persons also. That is why 156 dossiers contain 290 cases. In the 152 [recheck number] dossiers which were confessions by DK personnel, mostly men, most of the women involved were also DK personnel. There are very few cases of immorality or rape involving DK men and women from among the 'new people' evacuated from the towns.
In general it has been held by investigators that KR prison confessions contain much that is untrue, which the prisoners were forced to confess, or stories which they invented hoping for lenient treatment for themselves. Thus some of their allegations of sexual improprieties by others than themselves are certainly forced, although it is impossible to identify which ones are false. Probably the allegations or confessions of sexual improprieties made in connection with confession or allegation of CIA activities are false, at least if the assumption of most investigators so far, that all allegations of CIA activities are false, is accepted. It will not do to hold that any allegation of CIA work is false, but any charge of immorality or rape must be true. Incidentally there are no allegations of KGB involvement in these cases, and only 8 cases in which involvement with the CIA is alleged (5 cases of 'immorality' and 3 rape allegations).
Since it is generally believed that no one whose prison confessions are preserved survived, those 153 persons must have been executed, although not all of them were initially charged with, nor, presumably, executed for sexual immorality. So, if sex was a major charge against them, they were indeed punished severely.
Of the 290 cases, 220 are allegations or confessions of 'immorality', consensual activity, not rape or sexual abuse, and thus not "Sexual Abuse Cases Under the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) Regime", contrary to the title of the volume and Chhang Youk's statement. Because of that, I have not yet tried to count confessions of 'immorality' separately from allegations, since none of them, true or not, belongs under the rubric 'sexual abuses'. Three of the allegations result from mistranslation of the original Khmer. With respect to punishment, having in conversations and interviews over the years heard that punishment for immorality was usually execution, I was happy to note that in these dossiers this was true only in a few cases. When punishment for alleged 'immorality' was reported in these documents with respect to others than the authors of the confessions, it was usually demotion, transfer to another place far from the partner, or short imprisonment.
Does DCCam realize that in including these 'immorality' cases among incidents of 'sexual abuse under the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) Regime', DCCam is adopting with apparent approval the DK standards of morality and retribution, which today would be considered gross violations of human rights?
Similarly, the single case of homosexuality in the documents, between men and apparently consensual, although the second person (the victim?) was unnamed and apparently unknown to the authorities, would only be 'sexual abuse' under DK, not in our postmodern heterophobic society. Since this act was admitted by the author of a prison confession, we may assume that the poor bugger got the shaft in the end, if you will pardon the expressions.
There are 18 cases in which the person making the confession admitted to rape, and, as I noted above, they were all presumably executed, although perhaps not always for the rape, but for a political offence which was the main accusation against them. Three of the events were in battle zones.
In 4 of those 18 cases they confessed to having killed the women involved after raping them.
Fifty (50) more cases are allegations of rape made by the authors of the confessions against other men, and of those the alleged rapists are alleged to have killed the women in 8 cases. There are thus in all 12 cases of confessed or alleged murder of rape victims, and one more allegation of murder of a woman after 'immorality' which was not described as rape. Two of the cases of rape allegation are reports of the same event by different men who had heard of it at the time. A third report in a confession by a DK woman describes the same case in more detail; and the woman author of this report did not believe that the rape accusation was true. This brings the number of alleged cases down to 48.
Forty-four (44) of the 290 cases, and which are included in the above figures for confessions and allegations, were outside DK/KR jurisdiction, and thus do not qualify as 'sexual abuse under the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) Regime'. Either the alleged, or confessed, perpetrators were not DK personnel, or the activities had taken place before 1970 or completely outside KR territory. Three of these 44 non-KR cases were allegations against Vietnamese, one against a man in the anti-KR forces on the Thai border, 30, although undated, alleged patronage of prostitutes, thus not within KR zones, and not crimes 'under the DK regime'; and in the dossier with these 30 cases was one allegation of rape, included in the above rape statistics, but which should probably not be considered a KR incident as such are defined here. Eight (8) cases, including the three in which mistranslation was the culprit, were of immorality in the years between 1949 and 1968. Note that for the purposes of this analysis I have included as DK incidents cases involving KR personnel in apparently KR liberated zones after 1970. I believe, however, that when all the original Khmer-language files are studied some of these cases between 1970 and 1975 will also prove to be outside the category of "Sexual Abuse Cases Under the Democratic Kampuchea (Khmer Rouge) Regime".
In the summaries prepared of these cases, the man is always listed as 'perpetrator', and the woman as 'victim', even when it was an obvious love relationship. In 7 of the cases women were the admitted, or alleged, initiators of the immorality, yet in the English summaries of the cases they are called 'victims', even when no male 'perpetrator' is alleged. This may be good feminism, but it is bad sociology and makes for bad history.