A teacher at Hun Sen Wat Thmey Primary School in Svang Rieng province has been summonsed on charges of sexual harassment for ordering an 11-year-old female student to be undressed as a punishment for reading errors.
According to a complaint filed by the victim’s family to the provincial court in May, second-grade teacher Duong Sinet regularly ordered a male student to take off the victim’s skirt and underwear in front of a class of some 30 students.
It was not until mid-August that the case was escalated into a court investigation when the girl refused to attend school.
Despite having admitted to the allegations, which were corroborated by the victim’s classmates, Sinet has not yet been removed from the school, according to officials.
“The act of that teacher is utterly immoral and opposed to professional ethics,” said Ros Salin, spokesperson for the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
Salin said that two punitive measures had been taken in the form of an initial formal warning and, yesterday, Sinet’s transfer to an administrative role.
He claimed that further steps may be taken following the outcome of the court hearing on Monday.
Pov Samoeun, director of the school, confirmed that he initially responded to the allegations by ordering Sinet’s transfer to another class and an apology to the victim’s family.
Although Sinet at first refused the family’s demand for $500 compensation, he yesterday told the Post he was willing to pay $2,000 for the withdrawal of the lawsuit.
“I admitted my mistake and have apologised to her and her parents many times,” he said. “I am determined that I will stop committing such acts.”
However, the victim’s family has refused further negotiations, insisting on legal action.
“Let the court solve this case,” said the victim’s grandmother, Roath Saron. “The act of the teacher has damaged the reputation and dignity of my granddaughter, who will suffer for the rest of her life.”
Children’s rights groups have confirmed that the act constitutes sexual indecency and should be dealt with through the criminal code.
“If his intent to sexually abuse the girl is proven, he’s clearly committed a crime,” said Samleang Seila, executive director of the child-protection NGO APLE, noting the deficit of preventative measures in the education system.
“Obviously, there is a need to educate school teachers and staff on child sexual abuse and how to report it.”