Handicapped women in Kampong Speu are asking for national and international organizations
to assist establishing an "Organization for Handicapped Women" to support
handicapped and disabled women in Cambodia to find work and other problems as well.
Handicapped women are often stigmatized by both men and women and have difficulty
finding jobs because of their disability.
There is currently one forum for disabled women in Kampong Speu. However, this must
also cater for nearly 650 in four neighbouring districts in Kampong Speu: Samroang
Tong, Chbar Morn, Oudong and Kong Pisei, and does not have the means of finding jobs
for the women.
Khuon Samin is chief of the self-help union in Samroang Tong district in Kampong
Speu. Disabled herself, she is pushing strongly for the organization. "If there
is an organization for disabled women, it will be easier for disabled women to find
jobs and to help solve each other's problems as well.
She is confident the organization can get established once national and international
organizations realize the need."
Samin has had no feelings in her legs for 28 years. In 1976 a doctor gave her an
injection after giving birth that made her legs go numb. She never recovered feeling.
Since then she has been physically and emotionally abused. In 1985, another villager
stabbed her in both shoulders with a bayonet. Because of her handicap she couldn't
escape or fight.
Her family and people in the local community also looked down on her. "Not only
my villagers, but also my daughter-in-law rarely talks with me. I feel pain not only
in my body, but my mind as well," she says.
In 1996 she got a job in the self-help group and was later promoted to her current
position. After she got the job, she said villagers began to admire her. "Right
now, I feel very hopeful in my life and I want other disabled women to become like
The British-based Action on Disability and Development is one organization to have
already offered support to the handicapped women. It was behind the formation of
the forum in Kampong Speu and also supports ten organizations for handicapped people
in Kampong Speu, Kampong Chhnang, Kandal, Svay Rieng and Phnom Penh. Kampong Speu
would become the first organization strictly for handicapped women.
ADD plans to set up handicapped women's forums in other provinces if there is enough
demand. The forum workers collect all the information from the disabled women who
have problems such as in their families or in their communities, and then raise those
problems at the forum meeting to solve them.
"I want the Cambodian government to set up the law stating that handicapped
women have the same rights as the normal women as soon as possible," said Samin.
"I am asking the government to allow handicapped women to nominate their own
parliamentarian to represent them."