Acidic Cambodian sex scandal

A karaoke star is burned when a jealous politician's wife has her splashed with battery acid.

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Dec. 15, 1999

Mistresses, beware! If you play adulterously in Phnom Penh you might get your pretty physique mutilated or murdered. Cambodian wives are destroying their boudoir rivals, notes Agence France Presse and Deutchse Presse-Agentur.

Tan Chhay Marina, an 18-year-old once-beautiful karaoke singer and actress, was horribly disfigured on Dec. 5 when 5 liters of flesh-eating battery acid were poured on her head by the wife of Svay Sitha (an undersecretary of state) and her two bullying bodyguards.

Sitha’s wife launched her evil chemical assault in broad daylight at a public market. The three attackers, who first scratched and beat Chhay Marina, were lightly injured themselves when acid was flung back upon them by the young star’s agonized splashing.

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Gangrene is now grotesquely deteriorating Chhay Marina’s face, head, neck, hands, chest and other areas of her anatomy. She hovers near death at Phnom Penh’s Calmette Hospital.

Cambodia’s favorite film star and ballet dancer, Piseth Pilika, 34, was also attacked last year in an even more sensational sex-and-politics scandal. Pilika was gunned down execution-style by the hit-men of Bun Ray, the jealous wife of Prime Minister Hun Sen, 47, who was rumored to be her secret lover. Ten thousand mourners grieved at the cremation of the beloved Pilika, who garnered more headlines for her demise than even the notorious Pol Pot, who perished last year.

A love poem from Hun Sen was found amongst Pilika’s belongings, notes the International Herald Tribune. A sample line: “I sleep and dream of your fragrance.” Pilika’s diary also includes frequent references to the affair, but Hun Sen disputes the memoir’s authenticity.

No assailants have been arrested for either of the mistress attacks. Indeed, local feminist organizations are claiming that Cambodia’s promiscuous males are partly responsible. “Women are victims of polygamy, and should not bear all the blame,” argued Chea Sudaneth of the Women’s Media Center.

Hank Hyena is a former columnist for SF Gate, and a frequent contributor to Salon.

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