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Nature and nurture: which has more impact on you?

Posted by Popular Ombudsman on October 30, 2009

AAP October 30, 2009,
Sumaku investigators are now convinced that nurture has a more considerable impact on people than they are willing to admit. This flies in the face of ethnic supremacists who remain stuck in retrogressive beliefs in the superiority of certain races or tribes. Read this story from AAP concerning Cambodia’s jungle people.

Cambodia’s “jungle woman”, whose story gripped the country after she apparently spent 18 years living in a forest, was hospitalised after refusing food, her father and a doctor said on Friday.

But the tale of Rochom P’ngieng, which has involved disputes over her real identity and how she spent her missing years, took a further twist when her father then removed her from the clinic against doctors’ advice.

Rochom P’ngieng went missing as a little girl in 1989 while herding water buffalo in Ratanakkiri province around 600km northeast of the capital Phnom Penh.

In early 2007 the woman was brought from the jungle, naked and dirty, after being caught trying to steal food from a farmer. She was hunched over like a monkey, scavenging the ground for pieces of dried rice in the forest.

She could not utter a word of any intelligible language, instead making what Sal Lou, the man who says he is her father, calls “animal noises”.

Cambodians described her as “jungle woman” and “half-animal girl”.

Sal Lou told AFP by telephone on Friday that Rochom P’ngieng was admitted to the provincial hospital on Monday.

“She has refused to eat rice for about one month. She is skinny now…. She still cannot speak. She acts totally like a monkey. Last night, she took off her clothes and went to hide in the bathroom,” Sal Lou said.

“Her condition looks worse than the time we brought her from the jungle. She always wants to take off her clothes and crawl back to the jungle,” he added.

But he said in a later call that he had brought her home because it was too difficult to keep her from fleeing the hospital.

“We have to hold her hand all the time (at the hospital). Otherwise she would take her clothes off and run away,” he said, adding that he would now appeal to charities to take over her care.

Doctor Hing Phan Sokunthea, director of Ratanakkiri provincial hospital, confirmed that Sal Lou had defied medical advice and checked her out of the hospital.

“We wanted to monitor her situation more, but we don’t know what to do because the father already took his daughter out of hospital,” he said.

The jungles of Ratanakkiri – some of the most isolated and wild in Cambodia – are known to have held hidden groups of hill tribes in the recent past.

In November 2004, 34 people from four hill tribe families emerged from the dense forest where they had fled in 1979 after the fall of the genocidal Khmer Rouge regime, which they supported.


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