Monday, October 06, 2008

Against their will

Against their will


ON a sunny Sunday morning last year, 16-year-old Cynthia (not her real name) boarded a four-wheel drive dispatched by logging company Samling to ferry students to SMK Long Lama from her longhouse in Long Kawi, middle Baram, Sarawak.

However, the driver did not send the passengers €“ two boys and three girls €“ to the school directly. He dropped by a logging camp and told the students that they had to spend the night there.

“It was around 4pm. Although the school is not far from the camp, the driver didn’t want to continue the journey. The boys and girls were separated into two rooms. I was with my younger sister and another girl. When night fell, the men in the camp were drinking. In the middle of the night, several men came into our room. One of them dragged me from the room and took me to the bushes behind the camp,” Cynthia recalls her ordeal. The other two girls were not harmed.

The Form 3 student became pregnant and delivered a baby girl a few months ago. Cynthia, who harbours hopes of being a nurse, is now unsure of her future as she has been absent from school due to her pregnancy.

The fair-skinned, soft-spoken girl had previously been harassed by workers from a Samling camp but managed to elude them.

Samling, when contacted, says the camp implicated in the incident may not have belonged to the company and urged those making the allegations to contact the police and provide accurate information to enable criminal investigations.

Samling’s head of corporate communications Cheryl Yong says: “We are very concerned over the latest allegations even though we do not operate in the Temela Camp (where the alleged sexual assault took place). We do not condone any criminal acts within our premises or by employees.”

Yong explains that Samling has a zero-tolerance policy towards alcohol consumption during work hours. Furthermore, alcohol sale is unavailable on its premises and anyone found consuming alcohol while working will be dismissed.

At Long Belok, Rina (not her real name) who was raped in her house and delivered a baby girl in May 2005, is fearful of timber camp workers. “If I see them in the village, I will run and hide in the forest.”

She is glad that she did not have to marry the man who raped her despite persuasion from her parents and neighbours’ unkind remarks.

The youngest in a family of two boys and two girls, Rina, 20, says life is difficult with an extra mouth to feed. At times, she confesses that she feels like running away.

Mindy (not her real name) of Long Item, recounts the intimidation, deceit and harassment of a 40-something man who works for Interhill.

“We know him as Ah Heng. My parents and I got a ride in his vehicle from Ba Abang sometime in 2005. Shortly after that, he came looking for me in the village. He offered to take care of me but I declined. He then said I should give in or he would hurt me and my family,” says the 21-year-old woman who eventually acceded to his demands and has since borne him two girls, one in 2006 and another in February.

Ah Heng now rarely visits nor provides maintenance for the family after his wife found out about his activities and accused Mindy of seducing her husband.

“I don’t want him to come here anymore; I will raise the kids myself. I don’t even love him,” says Mindy.

http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2008/10/6/lifefocus/2164007&sec=lifefocus

other related reports:


Violated by loggers
http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2008/10/6/lifefocus/2150772&sec=lifefocus

Penan girls claim abuse
http://www.thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/10/6/nation/2198042&sec=nation

A neglected people
http://thestar.com.my/lifestyle/story.asp?file=/2008/10/6/lifefocus/2148310&sec=lifefocus

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