After watching another newly married couple in a forced marriage being led away by Khmer Rouge militiamen for failing to consummate their marriage, a terrified Soy Naroeun decided she had no choice but to have sex with her new husband—with whom she remains to this day.
“The militiamen continued patrolling, and a few minutes later they took away another couple. Then I thought to myself, ‘Although my body is trembling, I agree to give my body to my husband,’” Ms. Naroeun told the Khmer Rouge tribunal on Tuesday.
Ms. Naroeun was testifying in the ongoing trial of Khmer Rouge second-in-command Nuon Chea and head of state Khieu Samphan. Prosecutors are attempting to prove that the Communist Party of Kampuchea implemented a nationwide policy that forced people to marry and have sexual relations in order to increase the number of children and, eventually, workers.
Speaking of her forced marriage in Kompong Cham province, Ms. Naroeun—who had previously dodged efforts by local cadres to marry her off—said she felt compelled by fear of death to give her body to her new husband and the revolution.
During a ceremony devoid of all the traditions and celebrations integral to most Cambodian weddings, “I was asked to…to bear as many children as possible since Angkar needed people to defend the motherland,” she said.
“I thought that if I did not consummate the marriage with my husband then I might risk being taken away and killed,” Ms. Naroeun said. “I also saw with my own eyes some couples were led away by the militiamen. For that reason I decided to consummate the marriage with my husband.”
Despite speaking of the pain of her forced marriage, Ms. Naroeun said she remained with her husband at the fall of the Khmer Rouge regime for the sake of their child.
“After the liberation year, I decided to remain in the relationship because I had pity for my child who was born during the war time, and as a Cambodian woman I do not want to see my child having a second father or for me to have a second husband. For that reason I remained in a relationship although my feelings hurt,” she said.
“Everything was done for the sake of my child and I try to survive with the pain I carry every day.”
wright@cambodiadaily.com
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