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Girls’ Deaths Alert Cambodia to Human Cost of Economic Migration

Sun Narin

Ol Thida and her husband were sure they had no choice but to leave their tiny rural village.

They couldn’t find work anywhere nearby. They owned almost nothing, not even the plot of land their palm-thatched hut was built on. They owed a microfinance institution $250, a debt whose principal never seemed to shrink, no matter how much of their spare cash they forked over to the bank. They were desperate to meet the deadline for repayment at the end of the year.

So Ol Thida’s husband, Prak Chea, left for Thailand to work as a laborer on a cassava farm and send his wages home. He told her to stay home to care for their two daughters and meager property: a few pots and pans, a few cows. He would send money home.

So  Ol Thida’s husband, Prak Chea, left for Phnom Penh.But the debt was not getting smaller, despite the remittances. All Ol Thida could do for income was make baskets and catch fire ants to sell at the local market. Both of these brought paltry sums. She did not have the sewing skills to work at a garment factory. So she, too, decided to migrate. She left for Phnom Penh in October to look for a job as a waitress.

“I couldn’t even make 10,000 riel [$2.50] for my family,” said the 34-year-old mother of two. “How could I stay here?

”Her daughters, 7-year-old Meta and 14-year-old Leakhena, were growing up and would need more than she could provide if she stayed in the village. Once in Phnom Penh, she could send money home to them.

She arranged for the girls to sleep at her sister’s nearby home. She would call them every day on her sister’s phone, and Leakhena would cook meals for Meta in the family’s own hut. It was a risk, but seemed like the best option in a life of bad options.

Tragedy strikes

But the family’s new life quickly descended into tragedy.Three days after she left for the capital city, on Oct. 18, Ol Thida called home as usual, but her sister couldn’t find the girls. Family members began searching for them, but they weren’t in any of the usual places: not in the hut, not in the rice field where they worked every day.

In despair, Ol Thida consulted a fortuneteller in the capital, who insisted the girls were in the hut. The search party returned to the house and opened a box in the hut that was used to store clothes. Inside were the bodies of Leakhena and Meta. The older child had been raped and strangled; the younger had been beaten.

Screen Capture of a Headline Appeared in the Website of the Cambodian Newspaper The Phnom Penh Post. This Type  of Incident is Quite Common in Cambodia

A 25-year-old neighbor was arrested the next day for the crime. Chhum Poy was a distant relative; the girls had called him “uncle.” He confessed to police that he had taken advantage of their being home alone to drop by the hut and rape Leakhena. He admitted to strangling her, then beating and smothering Meta since she had witnessed the attack.

“The phone fell from my hand when I heard they were killed,” Ol Thida said.

She said she would not have dreamed her children were in danger of a violent crime in their tiny hometown, much less from a man they were so familiar with.

“I had never thought about rape in this village,” Ol Thida said.

Systemic problem

Meta’s and Leakhena’s deaths caught the public imagination and were widely discussed by Cambodians on social media, with many people blaming Ol Thida for leaving her children alone, or lamenting the decline of morality in Cambodian society.

But the truth is that there is a more systemic problem.

Stories like this are becoming more common in Cambodia, as migration from rural areas to Phnom Penh and Thailand is increasing rapidly, said Chhan Sokunthea, the head of the children’s rights unit at local rights group Adhoc.

The Cambodia Rural Urban Migration Project (CRUMP) found that the population of the capital city of Phnom Penh more than doubled from 1998 to 2012, from 567,860 to 1,237,600 residents, with an average annual of growth rate of about 8 percent. Cambodians also seek work in other countries such as South Korea and Malaysia.

“National police reports provide figures on movement out of home villages on a monthly basis,” the report said. “The reports capture the number of people who leave home villages in search of work. … According to this information, migration almost doubled from 2014 to 2015, with reports showing 450,845 people migrating or leaving villages in November 2015, compared with 241,375 people in November 2014.

The Cambodian government receives information about migration from Thailand. According to a census conducted by the Thai government in March 2015, there were more than 450,000 migrants from Cambodia working illegally in Thailand.

This demographic shift means that some villages are primarily populated by children, the elderly, and men who are unemployable because they use drugs or struggle with mental illness. But children are still expected to do traditional forms of labor, such as collecting forest products and herding cows, that bring them into remote parts of the countryside.

In Phsar commune alone, more than 500 people, mostly men and women in the prime of life, have migrated away from the countryside to work, according to Bin Sophan, the commune chief.

The suspect in the girls’ murder was not one of them. He used drugs and alcohol and did not work steadily, Bin Sophan said.

Those at greatest risk

Chhan Sokunthea said children from poor families whose parents were migrants were at greatest risk of physical and sexual abuse.

Nhep Sopheap, secretary-general at the Cambodia National Council for Children (CNCC), a government body, said she was “very concerned” about the effects on children of poverty and migration. She said the rape of children was of particular worry.

“We still have limited awareness in the countryside,” she said, adding that Cambodia was working on drafting a child protection law that dealt specifically with crimes against children and would fill gaps in the Criminal Code.

“Rape and sexual abuse remain a threat to the well-being of children in Cambodia, despite significant progress being made by the government to improve the protection of children from harm,” said Bunly Meas, a communications specialist at UNICEF, the United Nations’ children’s agency, which has been working with the Cambodian government on the law.

“It is important for parents and caregivers to ensure that young children are never left home alone as this exposes them to various forms of neglect and harm,” he added. “Children should be supervised at all times.”

The CRUMP survey found that of domestic migrants who left children behind, 82.4 percent left their children with grandparents, usually a grandmother whose average age is 62.4 years, and who circumstances are “difficult.”

Researchers found that families headed by grandparents alone struggled to consistently provide, according to the executive summary of a joint study by CNCC and UNICEF Cambodia. Many of the grandmothers told researchers they found the child care overwhelming. 

“This little one is so active, I can never leave her alone,” one woman said. “I am too old to watch her properly, she is too active.”

But hiring a child-minder is impossible for families like Ol Thida’s, where the exigencies of eking out a living are in direct conflict with their children’s needs.

Donations to mother

Amid the social media frenzy over the girls’ deaths, Cambodians sent Ol Thida thousands of dollars in donations.

Bun Rany, the wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen, promised to build her a house and gave her $5,000 through the Cambodian Red Cross. She also helped organize a new job for her at a garment factory, inspecting buttons.

The rest of the donated money is being held by local officials, who say Ol Thida is not responsible enough to keep it herself, but have promised to use the funds to buy the family a plot of land and a motorbike.

With cruel irony, the loan has finally been paid off — but too late.

As she spoke to a journalist one day recently, Ol Thida was lighting incense to pray to the spirits of her daughters at a makeshift shrine she had set up in her hut.

“It was my mistake to leave my children alone, but this was because of the difficulties of my life,” she said. “Now I can’t even work properly — I am like a crazy person. I am suffering like the death to lose my two lovely daughters.”

Then she addressed her dead children. “Please don’t be unfortunate, like you were in this life!” she pleaded with their souls-VOA

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India News Brief

 3 June, 2020

Several Parts of Maharashtra Witness Strong Winds as Cyclone Nisarga Makes Landfall

Cyclone Nisarga Passes Mumbai Heads Towards Pune

India's COVID-19 Figure Reaches 2,08,709 Death Toll: 5,834

India's Most Affected States:

Maharashtra: Total Positive Cases 72,300 Total Deaths: 2,465

Gujarat: Total Positive Cases: 17,632 Total Deaths: 1,092

Madhya Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 8,420 Total Deaths: 364

West Bengal: Total Positive Cases: 6,168 Total Deaths: 335

Delhi: Total Positive Cases: 22,132 Total Deaths: 556

Rajasthan: Total Positive Cases: 9,475 Total Deaths: 203

Uttar Pradesh: Total Positive  Cases: 8,870 Total Deaths: 230

Tamil Nadu : Total Positive Cases: 25,872 Total Deaths: 208

Andhra Pradesh: Total Positive Cases: 3,791 Total Deaths: 68

Telengana: Total Positive Cases: 2,891 Total Deaths: 92

Karnataka: Total Positive Cases: 4,063 Total Deaths: 53

Punjab: Total Positive Cases: 2,376 Total Deaths: 47

Jammu and Kashmir: 2,718 Total Deaths: 33

Lockdown extends till June 30

  • International air travel, Metro rail services not allowed 

Cinema halls, gymnasiums, swimming pools, entertainment parks, theatres, bars and auditoriums, assembly halls and similar places; and, social/ political/ sports/ entertainment/ academic/ cultural/ religious functions/ and other large congregations will not allowed.

  • Places of worship, hotels will open from June 8 with specific guidelines.

According to MHA guidelines, in Phase II, schools, colleges, educational/ training/ coaching institutions etc., will be opened after consultations with States and Union Territories.

There shall be no restriction on inter-State and intra-State movement of persons and goods. No separate permission or approval or e-permit will be required for such movement

But  states have the freedom to decide on public movement.

COVID-19: Delhi Death Toll Rises to 82 in Last 24 Hours

Probable Guidelines for Lockdown 5.0.

More travel routes are likely to open in Lockdown 5.0.

From June 1, the Railways will operate 100 pairs of mail or express trains, bookings have already begun. Then AC class services will resume.

Some states have already begun intra-state buses. Other states may  begin intra-tate bus services after June 1.Metro  services may begin in a limited manner, with lesser passenger capacity, social distancing norms and longer stops at each station.

Shops selling non-essential items were allowed to open during Lockdown 4.0.. More shops may open in Lockdown 5.0 even in markets.But no confirmed news regarding opening of shopping malls.Now many shops that have re-opened in market areas are operating on an odd-even basis.

Some cities have already allowed salons and beauty parlours to open with strict social distancing guidelines and wearing protective gear is a must.In containment areas the same rule may prevail in Lockdown 5.0.

The Human Resource Development Ministry of India will soon announce the guidelines of   schools reopening.

How to identify Fake News or Messeges on Social Media 

Beware of Fake News and Fake Messages on Social Media

Always follow websites or social media platforms of traditional media outlets whether newspapers, magazines,Television News Channels or Radio Stations and authentic online only media outlets.They still maintain journalism excellence and stress on reportorial talent.On the other hand, fake news websites run by people with non journalism background and promote their own ideology with fake news and disinformations and obviously conspiracy theories.

But unfortunately mainstream media also manipulates news to establish their story angle.There were various instances when News papers and TV Channels promoted fake news/conspiracy theories in the form of out of context or manipulated pictures/videos and distorted informations.

Always check the URL of any website.Some fake news websites look like the orginal and popular one the same layout,Logo but if you check the URL you may find extra words like if the orginal website's URL is www.xxx.com the duplicate one might be www.xxx.com.co or something like that so first check the URL for authentic informations.

Check whether photos are original or photoshopped.Check Google images for authenticity.You can find help from Google Reverse Images search.

Check the news sources from other websites whether they picked up the story or not.

Whether the website layout is little bit clumsy and obviously grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes and excessive use of Sex related and sensational and hate stories.Because sex and hate sells.

Follow official websites relating to COVID-19

WHO Clarifies the disinformation about the virus:
COVID-19 virus can be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates
Cold Weather and Snow can not kill the new coronavirus
Taking a Hot Bath Does Not Prevent COVID-19
COVID-19 Can not be transmitted through mosquito bites

Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body will not kill viruses that have already entered your body. Spraying such substances can be harmful to clothes or mucous membranes (i.e. eyes, mouth)

According to World Health Organization (WHO): Regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth . If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early

Stay at home if you begin to feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and slight runny nose, until you recover.

If you develop fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical advice promptly as this may be due to a respiratory infection or other serious condition

Follow WHO guidelines

www.who.int

When you follow COVID-19 related news and messages from social media then check and recheck it before consuming it.Follow journalism mantra: if your mother says she loves you, check it out.

Most of the messages or informations quote different organizations like WHO, UNICEF, UNDP,Cambridge University  or other well known institutes,organizations or individual to authenticate the messeges.Check official websites of these organizations  if stories are repeated there

Forwarding messages from unknown sources or little known sources, it would be better to ignore it.

Check whether any logo like UNICEF or WHO or other organizations used in the messages which look similar to original logo.

These type of messages are full of Grammatical mistakes and spelling mistakes which are quite uncommon in original messages.

Don't rely on viral social media messages such as Coronavirus Infected Indian Currencies of Rs.500 and Rs.2,000 Notes Found, Muslim Man Spit in Food At Indian Restaurant.....Always Check Authentic Sources.

Some fake messages pretend to be real one like unofficial Twitter handle of international media organizations like BBC,CNN,Washinton Post, New York Times-check the official Twitter handles of media outlets.

You can identify fake messages if the message requests you to share it.

Beware of Fake News or Fake Photos/Videos Relating to Communal Hatred

Always check the fact checking sites if you have some doubts about the authenticity of any information or picture.

www.boomlive.in

www.altnews.in

https://check4spam.com

https://smhoaxslayer.com

www.factchecker.in

www.allsides.com

www.factcheck.org

www.newsbusters.org

www.politifact.com

www.snopes.com

www.propublica.org

The Same Method Applies to You Tube Videos Check the Source the credibility of the Source.To Check Fake You Tube Videos Check and Recheck the sources. Does the person have the legal right to the video posted? Did that person capture the video? Whether it has been altered?

But due to advancement of technology we can not really wipe out fake news.According to experts advent of  Artificial Intelligence(AI) some companies small or big one developing  technologies that can  lay digitally created script to anybody's voice  even words,sentences never said by the person.Even they are developing a technology which can create fake video footage,images,audios like originals.So be cautious! Rumour-mongers are active everywhere whether in physical world or cyber world.

 

For any further information relating to fake news and how-to search authentic informations from the internet write to us info@crimeandmoreworld.com or Whats App:+919073399779

COVID-19 Related Conspiracy Theories:
https://fsi.stanford.edu/news/china-covid19

 

 

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