Cambodia charges three in Japanese sex slavery probe

Kim Leakhena, 28, who was implicated in a sex trafficking ring, is carried out of the Phnom Penh Municipal Court yesterday after she fainted during a hearing.

A Japanese restaurant owner accused of overseeing a smuggling ring that forced women into sex work in Japan was charged with trafficking in Cambodia on Tuesday, along with his wife and an employee.

The charges follow the dramatic rescue of seven Cambodian women from a restaurant in Gunma, northwest of Tokyo, in December after one of them made a desperate plea for help on Facebook.

Japan has long been a destination for Southeast Asian women who travel seeking higher wages but often find themselves forced into sex work or indentured labour.

Three suspects arrested on Saturday for trafficking women into sex slavery in Japan were all charged yesterday for their alleged involvement in the scheme, which one victim yesterday said had left her “deeply emotionally harmed”.

Ly Sophana, spokesman for the Phnom Penh Municipal Court, said that Fukui Susumu, 52; his Cambodian wife, Kim Leakhena, 28; and Cambodian national Seng Chandy, 34, were all charged under Article 12 of the Anti-Trafficking Law, which states that human trafficking committed by an organised group carries a prison sentence of 15 to 20 years.

“Judge Leang Samnat has decided to put them in pre-trial detention,” said Sophana, who was unable to say when the trial would begin.

General Pol Pithey, director of the capital’s anti-human trafficking police, said yesterday that the International Organization for Migration (IOM) assisted the survivors a claim one victim, who spoke on condition of anonymity, denied yesterday.

“The NGO just verbally claimed to help but we haven’t seen any help yet,” the woman said.

IOM could not be reached yesterday.

The victim also described her ordeal in Japan an experience she said she would never share with her family.

“I am deeply emotionally harmed,” she said.

Japan ‘sex traffickers’ charged

“Nobody in my family knows what happened, I will keep it until I die,” she said, claiming she would rather have committed suicide in Japan. “My family did not support me going to Japan, but I insisted because we are in debt,” said the woman, who was approached by Susumu and his associates.

“They said the salary was $3,000 a month, $5,000 if I do good work. Who would not want that?”

But, instead of the cushy job at a nail salon that she was promised, she was locked in a house with no internet connection and forced to sleep with restaurant customers.

She said she tried to resist in whatever way she could.

“Even if I didn’t bathe or brush my teeth, or if I purposefully made my hair messy, they would still make me work and serve,” she said.

The woman said she and her companions never received a salary, only meagre tips that they scrounged together to buy groceries as a group.

Eventually, one of the women managed to contact the Cambodian Embassy in Japan, prompting an investigation that freed the victims and led to two arrests in Japan, along with the three in Cambodia.

While she was happy that the perpetrators were caught, the woman yesterday said she wanted compensation for her experience.

“I worked there for three months so I should get $9,000,” she said, referring to her promised salary.

Source: ThePhnomPenhPost

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