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February 24, 2022

Teenager’s ear ‘almost severed off’ in knife attack while trapped in domestic servitude

A teenage trafficking survivor is recovering from an ear operation after an “aggressive” man cut it off with a knife.

 

Sreynith*, aged 17, was attacked by a man – the head of a household she was forced to live with after being sold into domestic servitude.

 

When she was 15, Sreynith was trafficked from her home in Cambodia to work for a middle-class family in Malaysia. She worked long hours each day, cooking, cleaning and child-sitting.

 

The father of this household emotionally and physically abused her on multiple occasions, including one time when he attacked her with a large knife, “almost severing her ear off.”

 

Eventually, Sreynith managed to escape. She fled to a police station and asked for help. Officers arranged for her to travel back to Cambodia where she was brought to Hope for Justice’s Lighthouse – a safe haven for survivors of human trafficking and modern slavery. We responded to her medical needs, arranged for her to have surgery for her ear, and reintegrated her back into family-based care.

 

 

Maggie Crewes, Hope for Justice’s Cambodia Director, said: “Sreynith was living in a torturous situation. The husband of this family was an angry and aggressive man. One day, when Sreynith did not cook his food to his liking, he smashed her index finger with a hammer, shattering it – and then refused to get her medical care.

 

“Sreynith was beaten on multiple occasions, including blows to her head. One time, when the man was very angry, he took a large knife and lashed out at her, almost severing her ear off. Again, no medical care was given.”

 

As a child, Sreynith’s parents left her in the care of an elderly grandmother who was unable to look after her. So, when a ‘friend’ of the grandmother offered Sreynith a job in the city, and handed over $100 to deliver her there, her grandmother willingly accepted.

 

Sreynith was unknowingly sold into the hands of traffickers. They initially took her to a locked location and within 24 hours, she was on a plane to Malaysia.

 

According to the 2021 Trafficking in Persons Report, Cambodia’s Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans, and Youth Rehabilitation (MOSAVY) referred to NGO services 220 Cambodian trafficking victims and “other vulnerable migrants” who were repatriated from foreign countries in 2020.

 

Sreynith endured abuse in domestic servitude for more than two years, until she managed to escape.

 

Since then, our team has provided crisis support, carried out family and community assessments and met Sreynith’s medical needs. She received antibiotics for the injury to her finger, which had become infected, and we organised surgery to repair her ear.

 

We have since reintegrated Sreynith with her grandmother, following education and life skills training to prevent re-exploitation.

 

Maggie said: “Finally now Sreynith is on the road to recovery and can start to process her experiences, as well as begin to look to the future. She is excited about moving to a café and bakery where she will learn to be a barista and make fancy cakes.

 

“Without all of this medical care, she would not be able to move forward in her young life and start to dream of a future free from exploitation.”

 

*Name changed to protect identity of the survivor