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Letter: Remarks offensive

Dear Editor,

I am greatly concerned by the remarks made by Rita Reddy, the in-coming director

of the Cambodian Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights, in the PPP story,

"UN Human Rights Centre gets new chief."

Ms Reddy claims that "maybe it has become incorporated into their genes."

This is in reference to what she claims as Cambodian's bloody history.

I find the remark offensive. It is the type of remark that sparks and incites racism

of the worst kind. The idea is very colonial, where notions about characteristics

were attributed to biological factors according to race, ethnicity and gender. It

is these very ideas that justified colonialism.

Ironically, Ms Reddy goes on to state that she intends to deal with these problems

by incorporating a new approach, "change through exposure and example."

If this is the exposure and example she is setting for Cambodians then it is a very

poor example. Already there is a problem with racism and women's oppression; Cambodia

does not need a Rita Reddy blend of "Human Rights" notion of supremacy.

Then she sides with male-stream ideas and treats Svay Sitha as a victim by stating

that he "has been a bit unfairly victimized." This completely ignores the

reality of the unequal status women face and the power of patriarchal privilege that

enables men to take (buy or sell) any woman as they please.

Rosanna Barbero

Phnom Penh

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