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Khmer Pedophiles and the Cambodia Daily

By: Casey Nelson Posted: October-05-2010 in
The Cambodia Daily - Tuesday September 21, 2010
Casey Nelson

In the Cambodia Daily newspaper, foreigners who have been caught having sex with a minor child in Cambodia are routinely (and justifiably) referred to as 'pedophiles' or 'alleged pedophiles,' and the problem of 'foreign pedophiles' is almost always noted somewhere in such articles. There are also disturbingly regular reports in the Cambodia Daily of Cambodians "raping" children in Cambodia. In fact there currently seems to be an epidemic of Cambodians sexually abusing children. But, regardless of the age of the victims, Cambodians are never referred to as 'pedophiles' in the Cambodia Daily. Helping to illustrate this point, there are two stories in today's Daily set side-by-side (click the graphic,) one of a foreign "pedophile" who sexually abused an 8-year-old boy and later two 16-year-old boys. Next to it there is a story of a Cambodian man who allegedly "raped" an 8-year-old girl and a 5-year-old girl on separate occasions.

For some reason, the Cambodian who allegedly repeatedly sexually abused children is not referred to as a 'pedophile' or 'alleged pedophile' in the Daily article. And even though the article notes literally hundreds of cases of sexual abuse against children by Cambodians, there is no mention of pedophilia. Now, I could imagine several possible reasons for the different vocabulary used in these two specific articles in today's paper, that is if it weren't for the fact that in the dozens and dozens of stories of the sexual abuse of children by Cambodians and foreigners reported in the Cambodia Daily over the last decade, the Daily has never once referred to a Cambodian child sex offender as a 'pedophile' in any of its articles (at least in my semi-systematic observation.) Let me repeat for emphasis, not even once. Assuming my observation is accurate, there would seem to be a pattern here.

The Cambodia Daily seems categorically averse to attaching the label of 'pedophile' to Cambodian offenders, and I was just wondering why. What is the difference between Cambodian and foreign child sex offenders when it comes to being a 'pedophile?' Is there a racial component to being a 'pedophile'? Can a Cambodian be a pedophile or is that a category reserved exclusively for foreigners?

Casey Nelson a.k.a. LTO Cambodia


No one talks about the female

No one talks about the female Paedphile, Why is that?

Back on topic the word Paedophile is not used in any Asian language.

Its common knowledge that Asian men have sex with young children in any Asian village and its just accepted. The problem is a lot worse in Thailand than it is in Cambodia


The link below is to an

The link below is to an Australian Parliamentary Joint Committee looking into paedophiia, and the section addressing the issue of definitions and legal basis (none). There may be more recent work, but it would be hard to refute the authority of such a committee even a bit dated.

It explains for me why the term 'paedophile' is not used in any/most (?) legislation, including in Cambodia.

Back to the Asian cultural thing. When I discussed this with my Western educated Khmer wife, she simply said that it's been historically normal for a lot of Asian men to want to have sex with young girls - virgins. I think most of us know this anyway. So yes, it is an Asian cultural thing. But sex with a pre-pubescent child is another thing, and perhaps the label 'paedophile' in the West is not strong enough - hence the term 'child sex offender/molester', which conveys the more sinister nature of the crime.

Still, none of this explains the Daily's, or other Cambodian/Asian media's, discriminatory use of the term.

Apologies for rambling. It's an emotive issue and one in which I've only had a deep interest since coming face-to-face with that convicted paedophile, Alan Arthur Perry, one year ago.


Casey, interesting article,

Casey, interesting article, thank you for pointing this out.


Power & Money

Power & Money are behind it. The powerful in Cambodia have the money so who will stop them? NGO's and foreign law enforcement are given briefs by Cambodian law enforcement and told by their embassies that this is the bottom line and dont rock the boat with the Cambodians. NGO's just want make sure they have the funding from donors to continue their Landcruiser tour of Cambodia. Which means at the end of the day nobody really cares what the Bongs do in their own country, as long as I get my PHD level salary, and the Landcruiser gets me to the Riverhouse on Friday night so I can cut one out of the heard for the night, back at my lavish apartment or villa.


Interesting point Casey. As

Interesting point Casey. As we know, a person convicted of child sexual abuse in the West is automatically labeled a paedophile. But here I too have never seen a Khmer labeled as a paedophile.

Violet's question about cultural differences is also interesting, but this misses the real point, which is about the discriminatory use of the term 'paedophile' as labeled by the Cambodia Daily against convicted foreigners only. Cambodia's previous law involving child sexual abuse called it 'debauchery' - possibly a French thing!! So, maybe there is a cultural thing about the label.

Or, it might simply be the express view of the Daily's Publisher!!

Either way, it would be a good thing for all persons convicted of child sexual abuse to be labeled the same. Maybe Cambodia just needs to come of age on this issue.


I kind of see what you mean

That the motivation behind child abuse could be different from the westerners, in a society where sex only happens in a marriage, compared to free sex in the west, where cheating is also easy if you want a bit on the side, without paying... But what do I know?

I think there are two types of Khmer, those that use children to satisfy their sexual needs and "true" paedophiles - but because the issue is complex, paedophilia is not recognised as a Khmer trait, the same way than Queen Victoria I (of England) did not accept lesbians to exist, while homosexuality was well recognised.

Is domestic violence and rape of a wife recognised in Cambodia? It once didn't exist in the West either, neither marrying a 14-year old, long time ago, was considered being pervert...


Hi ML of course I'm not


of course I'm not making excuses... I'm looking at it from a cultural perspective. Also, note well that I'm not claiming that it is not paedophilia, I'm merely wanting to have a discussion about it, based on how culture determines many different labels and behaviours.

I am actually capable of having a discussion (given the right environment).

Are you aware that the notion of alcoholism is not standard across all cultures and societies? Also the notion of when a person is an adult is different in many cultures and societies.

I'm just asking a question. Do you have anything more to say about it? Why 'must' it be the same?



Cmon violet,it must be the

Cmon violet,it must be the same thing musnt it?
Are you making excuses for khmer abusers?


I'll be brave and raise this

I'll be brave and raise this question here:
don't shoot me down... I'm merely being open minded and hoping to have an educated discussion.... (like that will stop some of you!?)

I'm interested in the opinion of professionals/educators who may have views on this. We have different defiinitions of what is an alcoholic in different cultures. Is there a difference in what is paedophilia in different cultures?

Either way you look at it, children are being used by adults for their gain. But is there a psychological difference between a paedophile as we know of them in the West, and between a Cambodian (for instance) male, who uses the child for whatever psych reason, but perhaps not for the same reason a male from the western cultures would. I'm probably not explaining myself well. Don't attack me, ask me questions to help me explain what I mean more clearly. Without doubt the Cambodian children are being raped. Are they being used by paedophiles though?

interesting links to consider:


to violet

Violet, my opinium is that paedophilia is a crime that carries a long sentence and shames the perpetrator, whereas rape or other term can be contested or have a very short sentence...

Also i see what you mean about cultural differences and you are right. I don't know how it is in cambodia but i know for sure that japanese men see nothing wrong with having sex with children and they don't even use the word paedophile.. maybe here is the same..


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