23 February 2013

Cambodian Kids Behind Bars(8) Lina's Story: Prison Guard Violence

Lina is a Cambodian woman doing a 16-year prison stretch for a crime she claims she did not commit. She has a young daughter, Maly, who spent time in jail with her.

She shares her small cell with as many as 25 prisoners and their children at a time.

Food and water supplies are scant and often make the prisoners sick.

Clothing and hygiene products are not supplied to any prisoners or their children by the state. There was never enough food for Lina's daughter, Maly

Lina continues:

'I have never experienced violence from the prison staff, I don’t do anything wrong, I make sure that I keep doing what I need to do to stay out of trouble. However, my child often experienced violence from the staff. 

The prison guards used to hit my child. She would play and run around with the other children living inside prison and sometimes the guards would hit her, because they said my child
disturbed them! She was hit so many times, each time I would be so scared for her in case something worse happened and I would cry. I was so angry at the guards for hitting Maly.

There is a lot of violence from the prison guards inside here. A few weeks ago there was a fight between
two women. One of the other women tried to stop the fight but when the guards came, they started beating this woman with a stick and they broke her arm. The prison doctor gave her paracetamol and nothing else…

My child also often witnessed violence from staff. She often saw the guards beating male prisoners with belts and sticks outside in the grounds.

A lot of times, the guards get drunk and beat the male prisoners for fun, my child also saw this. Also,when the guards are drunk, they often ask the prisoners to massage them, when the prisoners get tired of massaging them and stop, the guards have beaten them to keep working harder.

My child and I have also seen the guards beating the women prisoners. If we have a lot of work to do, such as cooking or cleaning, the guards will beat women if they think they are not working fast enough, to scare us all into working faster.

I don’t know of any woman who has been raped or sexually assaulted by a prison guard, I have not heard of this happening in this prison.'


For obvious reasons violence by prison officials is under-reported. Nevertheless allegations of brutal treatment and even torture are common place.

Equally obviously, being witness to violent beating can only adversely affect the development of a child.

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