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New program to fight gender-based violence

Physical, sexual and emotional violence against women is “common” in Ratanakkiri’s ethnic minority communities, and mostly committed by the victims’ husbands, a new gender-based violence report by CARE Cambodia has found.

Marriage between young teenagers was also “common”, although the average age of early marriage (before 18 years old) had increased from about 13 to 14 years old to 15 to 16 years old.

The findings were shared with local Ratanakkiri authorities yesterday during the launch of a new program dubbed Know & Grow, intended to help tackle domestic violence by teaching young people about healthy relationships.

“We need all relevant institutions to come together to cope with violence,” said Chuk Moeulh, director of the province’s women’s affairs department. “We cannot successfully combat this alone.”

The study did not look at how violence among ethnic minorities compared to the general population, but those involved said that could be their next step.

“This is a complex issue,” said Jan Noorlander, program director for CARE’s Ethnic Minority Women’s program. “We don’t pretend that this research has found all the answers.”

The new $1.17 million program, launched by CARE, will target 11 lower secondary schools in the province, and will reach some 2,601 ethnic students who speak Khmer.

One component of the program will teach students about sexual reproductive health and building healthy, respectful relationships.

Under the program, students will also learn to use new technologies and develop leadership skills.

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