Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Actress reveals tale of abuse



Actress reveals tale of abuse

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A photo of Sveng Socheata, known for her work in Angelina Jolie’s film First They Killed My Father, is seen kayaking last year with her husband, whom she says threatened her life. SOU VUTHY

Actress reveals tale of abuse

One of Cambodia’s most prominent actresses, who most recently appeared in Angelina Jolie’s First They Killed My Father, yesterday revealed her harrowing tale of alleged abuse at the hands of her husband.

Sveng Socheata, 38, on Saturday filed a complaint to police against Thong Sokhom, 27, her husband and a traditional healer, alleging he threatened to “behead” her and their toddler son with a meat cleaver and an axe. “He threatened to kill me . . . He intended to kill me many times,” she said yesterday, explaining she had kept quiet out of shame and to protect her privacy. “This time, I won’t shut up. I must tell the public.”

Socheata’s case is the latest in a string of high-profile domestic assaults that have shed on the pervasive nature of gender-based violence in the Kingdom.

Actress Pich Aviza ultimately withdrew a complaint in November last year against her former boyfriend, Kean Heng, a relative of timber tycoon Try Pheap, who allegedly viciously attacked her in a nightclub. In February of last year, real estate magnate Sok Bunwas handed a mere 10-month sentence for a savage, on-camera beating of TV personality Ek Socheata.

Saturday’s midday threats followed an alleged assault on April 9, when photos emerged of Socheata’s face, badly swollen and bruised. In that instance, Socheata said her husband pushed her to the floor, stepped on her face and neck with his boots and kicked her, leaving her with facial injuries and blurred vision.

After that, Socheata said, she went to Kompong Samnanh commune authorities in Takhmao seeking a compromise with her husband. He thumbprinted a document promising not to attack her again.

“It’s been three years, it’s been hundreds of times that he does this to me, but I bear it. I tried to compromise for the sake of the family,” she said.

But the renewed threats prompted the Mind Cage actress to appeal to Chraing Chamreh commune police in the capital’s Russey Keo district to take legal action against her husband, who is now on the run. “If I don’t file a complaint to police, I will be killed one day because he’s a bad-tempered husband,” she said.

Police chief Roeun Vorn confirmed his deputy had received the complaint, and it would be forwarded to the district level.

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
First They Killed My Father movie characters from right to left, Sarun Nika (Geak), Sveng Socheata (Ma), Khoun Sothea (Khouy), Heng Dara (Meng), Phoeung Kompheak (Pa); front row: Sareum Srey Moch (Loung), Mun Kimhak (Kim), Oun Srey Neang (Keav), Run Malyna (Chaou). Photo supplied

According to Ros Sopheap, the executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, police too often persuade women to “compromise” and continue living in dangerous homes with their abusers.

“The local authorities still have this mindset,” she said, drawing on an old Khmer proverb to illustrate her point: “Plates in a basket will rattle,” meaning conflict is “normal” between husband and wife.

More than one in five women in Cambodia have suffered physical or sexual violence by their intimate partners, and many wives believe their husbands have “a right” to beat them.

Sopheap said it was time for police to treat domestic disputes as seriously as they would a street assault, and urged the government to allocate more funds to combating domestic abuse.

She added that while Socheata’s celebrity status might afford her different treatment than poor women, her case would send a message about the prevalence of intimate partner violence.

“It shows society that when domestic violence happens . . . it is not only the poor, but the rich and elite families as well.”

MOST VIEWED

  • Phnom Penh placed in two-week lockdown

    The government has decided to place Phnom Penh in lockdown for two weeks, effective April 14 midnight through April 28, as Cambodia continues to grapple with the ongoing community outbreak of Covid-19, which has seen no sign of subsiding. According to a directive signed by Prime Minister

  • Cambodia on the verge of national tragedy, WHO warns

    The World Health Organisation (WHO) in Cambodia warned that the country had reached another critical point amid a sudden, huge surge in community transmission cases and deaths. “We stand on the brink of a national tragedy because of Covid-19. Despite our best efforts, we are

  • Hun Sen: Stay where you are, or else

    Prime Minister Hun Sen warned that the two-week lockdown of Phnom Penh and adjacent Kandal provincial town Takmao could be extended if people are not cooperative by staying home. “Now let me make this clear: stay in your home, village, and district and remain where

  • Businesses in capital told to get travel permit amid lockdown through One Window Service

    The Phnom Penh Municipal Administration has issued guidelines on how to get travel permission for priority groups during the lockdown of Phnom Penh, directing private institutions to apply through the municipality's One Window Service and limit their staff to a mere two per cent. In

  • Vaccination open to foreigners in Cambodia

    The Ministry of Health on April 8 issued an announcement on Covid-19 vaccination for foreigners residing and working in Cambodia, directing the Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training and local authorities to register them. Health minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the inter-ministerial

  • Ministry names types of business permitted amid lockdown

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training singled out 11 types of business that are permitted to operate during the lockdown of Phnom Penh and Takmao town, which run through April 28. Those include (1) food-processing enterprises and slaughterhouses; (2) providers of public services such as firefighting, utility and