Through developing and disseminating best practice guidelines for supporting victims and their families, doing case-by-case advocacy and building strategic partnerships with other organisations, the Court Support Program focuses on providing high-quality and timely legal and social support for victims of sexual abuse, thus enabling them to pursue justice while minimising the risk of further trauma. The program’s activities include crisis intervention, provision of emotional support, legal advice and representation for victims and their families along with advocacy at all levels to establish child-friendly procedures during the entire judicial process.
APLE Cambodia’s Court Support program team also develops and disseminates best-practice guidelines for supporting victims and their families and liaises with the Department of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and other relevant NGOs providing childcare, to coordinate actions and improve the services for the best interests of the children affected by CSAE.
NGO partners that either refer to, or receive referrals from, the Court Support program include Hagar International (Phnom Penh, Battambang), Friends International (Phnom Penh), Pour un Sourire d’Enfant (Phnom Penh), M’lop Tapang (Sihanoukville), First Step Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap), Hope for Justice (Phnom Penh), Bantey Srei (Battambang), Komar Rireay (Battambang), Angkor Hospital for Children (Siem Reap), Destiny Rescue of Cambodia (Phnom Penh, Siem Reap), Mith Samlanh (Phnom Penh), Cambodia Women’s Crisis Center (Phnom Penh), and Krousar Thmey (Phnom Penh), among others.
In 2018, APLE provided legal support to 148 victims and families, social support to 298 victims and families.
Retrieving from suicidal thoughts: Deeply Traumatized Girl Recovers from Online Abuse
Sophearoth* was 15 years old when she befriended an unknown male on Facebook who requested her friendship, appearing to be around her same age. Over the days, communication grew between the two.
Sophearoth exchanged innocent photographs with whom she believed was her new friend. The “friend”, however, started to Photoshop her pictures, merging them with naked body-parts of pictures likely found on porn sites. The offender sent the edited photographs to Sophearoth and threatened her with making them public in case she would not send him real naked photos of her. Afraid of the fake photographs reaching her friends and family members, Sophearoth decided to comply with his request.
The offender continued the sextortion and requested an off-line meeting. Although she refused to meet in person, the situation provoked a strong distress in the girl, who decided to commit suicide. She attempted to cut her wrists, but was fortunately rescued.
In April 2018, APLE’s Internet Hotline received an anonymous report regarding Sophearoth’s case and immediately intervened. APLE’s investigation team and hotline analyst assisted Sophearoth and her family in filing a complaint before the Ministry of Interior’s Anti-Cybercrime Department, while the Social Work team provided emotional support and referred Sophearoth to a French NGO in Phnom Penh for long term emotional care.
Sophearoth has since made significant progress overcoming her emotional trauma and has stopped suicidal thoughts. Although the offender has since not been identified, APLE’s Hotline Analyst closely monitors the Facebook accounts of both the suspect and Sophearoth. There is no leaking of her photographs to any online platform.
* Name was changed to protect the victim’s identity and privacy.