PHNOM PENH – A Japanese academic testified at the U.N.-backed Khmer Rouge tribunal in Cambodia on Tuesday, giving an insight into forced marriage under the regime in the 1970s.
Kasumi Nakagawa spoke at the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, saying that while most accounts of the period had been given by men, stories from women’s perspectives should be encouraged.
Nakagawa has written a book titled “Gender-Based Violence During the Khmer Rouge Regime.”
She said she had studied the rule of Pol Pot and his rise to power, but had focused her research on gender issues in relation to sexual violence, rape and forced marriage under his regime.
Nakagawa, who speaks and reads Khmer and lectures at Pannasastra University of Cambodia in Phnom Penh, said her students were unaware of forced marriage and sexual violence under the Khmer Rouge, and that she had endeavored to conduct “painful research” into the traumatic experiences of some survivors.
Since joining the university in 2001, Nakagawa has engaged with the empowerment of women in Cambodia, and has penned a number of books on the issue, including accounts of pregnancy and sexual violence under the regime in the 1970s.
She told the tribunal that, in researching her book on gender-based violence, she had met with 31 women who were forced into marriage, some of whose husbands had died or disappeared or who had later divorced. Others were still married to the partners they had been forced to wed, she said.
Nakagawa is the fourth Japanese to engage with the ECCC, which began in 2006. The others are a judge, a public affairs officer and a member of the investigating judges’ team.
Japan is also a leading donor toward the court’s expenses.
The court is considering forced marriage in the trial of Khieu Samphan, former head of state, and Nuon Chea, formerly known as Brother No. 2.
On Monday, the tribunal’s costs were said to have topped $261 million over the decade of its existence. It was jointly established by Cambodia and the United Nations to try former Khmer Rouge leaders for the deaths of at least 1.7 million Cambodians in the late 1970s.
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