Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Cambodian "Jungle Girl"

Been meaning to get to this one for a few days:

Cambodian police in a remote village along the Vietnamese border have cordoned off an isolated home to keep prying eyes away from the family of Sal Lou. The family, it seems, has been reunited with a daughter who disappeared in 1988 at age 8. Where has she been all this time: Living alone (maybe, more in a moment) in the jungle. She was recently captured, filthy, near starving, naked, and unable to communicate, by a farmer from whom she was trying to steal rice.

A miraculous, ecstatically happy ending to a family tragedy? Maybe. Maybe not.

This story, weird to begin with, only gets weirder.

There are reports which indicate the "Jungle Girl" was not alone when caught by the farmer. She may or may not have been accompanied by an equally feral man, who ran off when the farmer challenged them.

Additionally, the supposed "identifying mark" on the woman is a scar on her wrist, which came, her maybe-maybe-not father insists, from an accident involving a knife and the woman's maybe-maybe-not younger sister prior to the disappearance 18 years ago. These marks, which are unquestionably visible on the woman's wrists, may be, instead, an indication she had been bound by the arms, a common treatment for the mentally ill in rural Southeast Asia.

Oh, and the maybe-maybe-not younger sister? She disappeared at the same time way back in '88. No sign of her now.

And, finally, not the least fascinating part of the Sydney Morning Herald article linked above: The last part of the article lists several previous cases of children abandoned at early age who somehow survived on their own, aided by animals.

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