Ms. Sou Sotheavy is a Civil Party of transgender identity who was targeted and discriminated together with other transgendered people on the basis of her sexual orientation. She provided testimony regarding the many sexual assaults and rapes she endured, and in relation to her forced marriage under the Khmer Rouge regime. We thank her for her courage to speak about these hidden and under-reported crimes.
Her testimony sheds light on the suffering of many and women and men who were raped and subjected to other forms of sexualized violence during the Khmer Rouge regime. Her account contradicts the common and still widespread historical belief that sexualized violence under the Khmer Rouge was an exception.
Sexualized violence was not included into the indictment because the prosecution did not prioritize and properly investigate these crimes despite all existing UN resolutions against sexual violence in conflict and the requirement to prosecute these crimes properly and effectively.
Only the crime of forced marriage (as crime against humanity) was included in the final indictment- not initially, but only as a result of the tireless efforts of civil parties.
Although it is very positive that Ms Sou Sotheavy got the chance to speak out about sexualized violence committed against her on many occasions, the facts of her testimony and her suffering will not be part of a potential judgment in this case (because the Trial Chamber severed the current case and therefore excluded the indicted charge of forced marriage) and it is highly likely this will be the last case against the Accused.
Her testimony with regard to all forms of sexualized and gender-based violence is therefore important for the historical record but will not be subject of a judicial assessment. After all efforts and to a certain extent progress, made in this area by other tribunals in the meantime, the prosecution of sexualized and gender-based crimes at the ECCC leaves behind it a poor record.
Ms. Sou Sotheavy’s testimony can be read on pages 9-13 of the below transcript.