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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Concern at juvenile rape and fatal domestic violence

Concern at juvenile rape and fatal domestic violence


Cheng Pok, 51, of Preah Village, in Kampong Cham, was hurt by his son.


omestic violence, sex trafficking and rape remain high concerns for authorities

despite efforts by the government and NGOs to heighten awareness of morality issues

and law enforcement, several officials have told the Post.

Ny Chakrya, head of the monitoring section for local human rights NGO Adhoc, said

the overall rates of domestic violence, sex trafficking and rape had increased only

slightly from 2005. But he said domestic violence causing death, and rape involving

juveniles, had increased significantly.

"Even though we see that the data of domestic violence, sexual abuse and rape

remain stable, these problems are a major concern," Chakrya said. "Also,

drugs have spread out to rural areas and morality has dropped."

Chakrya said civil society and NGOs have tried to educate people in remote areas

but the results have been disappointing. He said the government seems to ignore problems

in the countryside.

"It is the responsibility of the government to implement the law, and perpetrators

must be punished," Chakrya said.

Keth Mardy, director of the legal protection department at the Ministry of Women's

Affairs (MWA), said a survey conducted in 2005 showed that 23 percent of women between

14 and 45 years old had been affected by family violence. This does not include sexual

abuse and rape.

Also, statistics released earlier this year by the NGO Violence Against Women and

Children in Cambodia reported that 70 percent of street sex workers interviewed said

they had been gang raped.

"Many women suffer from violence; domestic violence was a problem long before

the law was mapped out," Mardy said referring to the Domestic Violence Law passed

earlier this year. "We have done a lot of work, but the results are still only

a little bit positive."

Ket Sam Ath, director general at the MWA, said the National Assembly has passed many

laws related to women, but implementation is slow and a "huge" amount of

rural people are not yet aware of the laws, or their rights.

"It will take more time for law enforcement to become effective and until the

people understand the laws," Sam Ath said, "the MWA alone cannot eliminate

these problems. It needs cooperation from related ministries, institutions and people


Sam Ath said the ministry is focused on promoting gender equality. Ath said the five

biggest issues women face in their lives are education, health, lack of empowerment

to make decisions, legal protection and entering business.

"Lack of law enforcement and corruption will make these laws ineffective,"

Chakrya said. "But if [authorities] were willing to implement the laws, change

would not take long."

The MWA, in cooperation with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), conducted

a four-day mission from December 19 until 22 to promote gender equality, reproductive

health and to reduce domestic violence in the three northwestern provinces of Battambang,

Banteay Meanchey and Pursat.

Chea Samnang, a movie star and goodwill ambassador of UNFPA, said the tour was aimed

at understanding the difficulties women face to reduce family violence and to empower

women to demand rights equal to men.

Samnang said men always consider themselves valuable, powerful and entitled to make

family decisions. This mindset, she said, has influenced the young generation and

is a partial cause of domestic violence and other disturbing trends.

"If we look to neighboring countries, they also have violence, but our country

has more," Samnang said. "Violence will damage the whole family."

Nop Sarinsreyroth, coordinator of Banteay Meanchey provincial office of the Cambodian

Women's Crisis Center (CWCC) said the reason behind sex trafficking is that men consider

women to be like goods to be bought at the market. Remote Banteay Meanchey province

has the highest rate of domestic violence in Cambodia, according to Sarinsreyroth.

"Domestic violence aimed at women and children is still a serious problem in

Cambodia," Sarinsreyroth said. "Family violence happens not only to women,

but also to men. Many times the result is death."



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