Cambodian court to hear impact of forced marriages

Cambodian court to hear impact of forced marriages

Cambodian court to hear impact of forced marriages

Posted 10 June 2011, 21:00 AEST

A Cambodian woman is among thousands seeking justice after the Khmer Rouge forced them to marry men they had never met.

In 1978, during the final months of the Khmer Rouge's brutal rule of Cambodia, 16-year-old Pen Sochan was ordered to marry a soldier.

Forced marriage is among charges laid against four senior Khmer Rouge leaders whose trial starts in June, at the United Nations-backed tribunal in Phnom Penh.

A new documentary, Red Wedding, has followed Pen Sochan's story.

She has been recognised as one of nearly 4,000 victims, who are known as civil parties, for the purposes of the court case.

The makers of Red Wedding say 250,000 Cambodian women were forcibly married under the Khmer Rouge regime, and unlike in other parts of the world men were also forced to wed.

Duong Savorn, from the legal advice group Cambodian Defenders Project, has told Radio Australia's Connect Asia program forced marriage victims had little notice of the Khmer Rouge's plans.

"Normally the Khmer Rouge informed victims just a couple of hours or sometimes a couple of days beforehand," he said.

"Sometimes they were called straight from the rice fields to be married without notice in advance.

"They hadn't known about [it] before at all - both men and women. And after they married, about a couple of hours later, they were assigned to live as a couple.

"During the first night or second night, the Khmer Rouge cadres surrounded them to make sure that they have sex with each other - they have to follow Angkar's orders otherwise they would be killed."