Cambodia has a very, very long history of bloodshed and violence. You can go through history books and read up on any part of Cambodian past and all you will find will be violence. The country as it is today is not different from the way it has always been. With its stellar corruption record and a complete joke of a police force, a value of human lives is in the neighbourhood of $20. Gun ownership is unregulated and uncontrolled, with handguns sold in the streets in broad daylight and thousands upon thousands of military grade weapons and explosives still floating around since the Khmer Rouge rule. Killing someone in Cambodia is as easy as pulling out that handgun you have and shooting them in the head in the street. In 9 out of 10 cases, the body will be eaten by stray dogs and nobody will bother to investigate into it. In a rare case that it’s someone associated with the powerful Cambodian elite, the heads will be chopped. Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen is a totalitarian dictator second in the number of people he had removed from his path only to Hitler or Stalin. Cambodia just rocks like that.
What kind of people do you think a society like this produces? I was gonna say – ask any of the foreigners who were brutally murdered in Cambodia, but they can no longer speak. Some were murdered for 2,000 Cambodian Riels (equivalent of 50 US cents) – just ask the family of Australian John Edward Thompson, others were beaten to death and as their body was laying there lifeless, the perpetrators stole all of their belongings, including their clothes letting them die in a ditch naked – just ask the family of Canadian Jiri Zivny who volunteered in Cambodia as an Aid Worker. The list of foreigners violently murdered in Cambodia just goes on.
Cambodia is also the rape capital of the world with men freely raping everyone from small children to elderly women without any form of recourse. Would it surprise anyone that Cambodia has some of the world’s highest rates of acid attacks per capita in the world? Since its induction in 2006, Cambodian Acid Survivors Charity registered 270 acid attack victims (CASC only registers victims who seek treatment and support through them, hence actual number of victims is much higher). 10 New cases were added to the total in the first three months of 2010 and by June of the same year – just before pictures of Sokreun Mean, the acid attack victim from the gallery below were taken – the number of acid attack victims grew by 17. There is basically one acid attack somewhere in Cambodia every few days.
These are no hoax acid attacks. Unlike the recent case of Bethany Storro from Vancouver, Canada, the attacks in Cambodia are very much real and victims end up severely scarred. Sokreun Mean lost her eyes and had her face severely disfigured after estranged wife of her ex-husband threw large quantity of acid on her. Sokreun Mean has been operated on more than 20 times but remains vastly disfigured and completely blind.
Gallery of photos of what Sokreun Mean is below. All photos are copyright 2010 Paula Bronstein, Getty Images Asia.