‘Jun­gle woman’ finds her father

The Myanmar Times - - The Pulse -

A VIET­NAMESE man has claimed he is the real father of a woman whose plight gripped Cam­bo­dia after she ap­par­ently spent 18 years liv­ing in the jun­gle, her adop­tive fam­ily said yes­ter­day.

The pa­ter­nity claim, which the woman’s adop­tive fam­ily now be­lieve is gen­uine, adds a new twist to a saga that be­gan in 2007 when a naked and filthy woman was dis­cov­ered try­ing to steal food from a farmer.

The woman – soon dubbed “jun­gle woman” by Cam­bo­di­ans – was found hunched over like a mon­key, scav­eng­ing on the ground for pieces of dried rice.

She was taken in by a Cam­bo­dian fam­ily who iden­ti­fied her as Ro­chom P’ngieng, a girl who went miss­ing in 1989 while herd­ing wa­ter buf­falo in Ratanakiri prov­ince, around 600 kilo­me­tres (400 miles) north­east of Ph­nom Penh and home to some of the coun­try’s wildest jun­gle.

Now a 70-year-old Viet­namese man, named Peo, claims the woman is in fact his daugh­ter who went miss­ing in 2006 and has a his­tory of men­tal health is­sues.

Ro­chom Kham­phy, a mem­ber of the adop­tive fam­ily, said Peo recog­nised her after see­ing re­cent pho­tos on Face­book.

“He claimed she is his long-lost daugh­ter,” he told AFP by tele­phone. “He recog­nises her by a spot on her lip, ear con­di­tions and a scar on her left wrist.”

The Viet­namese man has since made two vis­its, the lat­est on July 30, and has agreed to pay the woman’s adop­tive fam­ily US$1500 for tak­ing care of her.

Kham­phy said his fam­ily were in­clined to be­lieve the man is her father and were await­ing ap­proval from the Cam­bo­dian au­thor­i­ties to give her back.

“If she was not his daugh­ter, he would not want her back be­cause she is men­tally ill. He said he feels pity for her, that is why he wants her back,” he said.

In a let­ter given to her Cam­bo­dian adopted fam­ily and seen by AFP yes­ter­day, Peo said his daugh­ter was called Tak.

“Re­cently some young vil­lagers sud­denly found her in­for­ma­tion and pic­tures on­line. They showed me and I dis­cov­ered she is now in Cam­bo­dia, raised by Cam­bo­di­ans,” Peo said.

Ch­hay Thi, pro­vin­cial co­or­di­na­tor for lo­cal rights group ADHOC, told AFP he was mon­i­tor­ing the trans­fer process for any signs of hu­man traf­fick­ing, but added he was in­clined to be­lieve Peo.

“Their faces are sim­i­lar. If she is not his daugh­ter, he would not take her back be­cause she is men­tally-ill,” he said. –

Photo: AFP

Tracy D’Souza (cen­tre), head of the film­mak­ing group Gir­liyappa, speaks with team mem­bers dur­ing a meet­ing at their of­fice in Mum­bai.

Photo: AFP

Ro­chom P’ngieng, also known as the “jun­gle woman” after she ap­peared from the wilder­ness in 2007, lays in a ham­mock. She has been claimed as the daugh­ter of a 70-year-old Viet­namese man.

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