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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Anti-violence law hopes fade for lack of quorum

Anti-violence law hopes fade for lack of quorum

Anti-violence law hopes fade for lack of quorum

The final session of the National Assembly is unlikely to reconvene ahead of the

July 27 general election, as it has repeatedly suffered from a lack of a quorum in

this, its final session.

The Assembly's deputy secretary-general, Chan Ven, said that between 53 and 75 members

were present at its sessions from May 27 to 29 to debate the draft law on domestic

violence. The Assembly requires a quorum of 86 to convene.

"It seems to me that the parliamentarians will not meet again as they are too

busy visiting their grassroots supporters ahead of the election campaign," he

said.

Ven, who is also a senior official with the ruling Cambodian People's Party (CPP),

said many MPs had opted to follow Prime Minister Hun Sen and Funcinpec's Prince Norodom

Ranariddh on their daily provincial tours, where they spoke to villagers about their

past achievements and future promises, and handed out donations and gifts.

But Minister Mu Sochua of the Ministry of Women's and Veterans' Affairs (MoWVA) told

reporters she was still optimistic that the domestic violence law, which has been

tabled, would pass ahead of the election.

"This law is very important and it will allow enforcement to eliminate domestic

violence," said Sochua on May 29. "Domestic violence is continuing in our

society and the individual perpetrators still enjoy impunity."

The nation's legislators, who were on leave for three months, reconvened for the

final full session of the current parliament on May 26. A quorum was only reached

on the first day, which saw chapter one of the draft law adopted.

The law seeks to help the victims of domestic violence, and is designed to be used

in conjunction with the Civil Code and Penal Code. Sochua said crimes such as acid

attacks would be covered under the law.

"I guarantee that the law will punish all perpetrators of [domestic] violence,"

Sochua said. "I have never been afraid of the influence of individual politicians."

The first day of debate also saw the frustration of a plan by more than 200 victims

of domestic violence to gather outside the National Assembly to urge passage of the

law. A women's rights coordinator from human rights NGO Licadho told the Post on

June 3 that the municipality had banned the action.

"We regret that the authorities prohibited our right to express ourselves,"

she said. "We need this law to protect the interests of Cambodian women."

She said many cases of domestic violence, such as beatings, were taking place between

married couples.

"Neighbors and the authorities regard domestic violence as an internal affair

of those families, and so no-one helps the victims at the scene," she said.

"Therefore if there is still no law to give local police the authority to act,

women will remain victims."

The coordinator added that a survey undertaken three years ago by the Ministry of

Planning and MoWVA in conjunction with the Cambodian Committee of Women found that

one in four women were victims of domestic violence.

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