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Traditional attitudes, alcohol drive abuse

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A new report also describes a lack of will on the part of authorities to address the problem.

Photo by: Tracey Shelton

A participant holds up a new report on domestic violence released Wednesday.

THE majority of Cambodians see alcohol as a key contributor to instances of domestic violence, suggests a report on the issue released Wednesday.

In addition to alcohol abuse, cultural norms, traditional attitudes and widespread gender-based discrimination are hindering efforts to prevent domestic violence, the report, which is part of an EU-backed project to reduce violence against women, claims. It also suggests that these factors contribute to repeat attacks by discouraging victims from leaving abusive relationships.

"As we carried out research, we found that a large majority of all target groups ... believe that alcohol is the main contributing factor to domestic violence," said Jo-Ann Lim, a research consultant who worked on the report.

The findings suggest that many Cambodians recognise that domestic violence can take several forms - such as verbal, physical or sexual abuse. However, skills or knowledge within communities about how to resolve violent situations and prevent further violence was found to be lacking.

"The survivors of domestic violence lack understanding about their rights," Lim said.

The report, titled "Out of court resolutions of violence against women: practices and issues in Cambodia", is based on data from more than 300 interviews conducted in five different communities in Phnom Penh and Kampong Cham province.

The project is co-funded by the European Union and the Danish International Development Agency, with help from local rights groups, including Adhoc and the Cambodian Women's Crisis Centre.

Authorities part of problem

Adhoc President Thun Saray said the report highlighted the lack of will on the part of local authorities to protect those in danger.

"Local authorities ... are corrupt and discriminative," he said, referring to a tendency to broker deals between victims and abusers. "Now, it is only NGOs addressing this issue, when it is really the role of the local authorities."

Lim, who said the aim of the report was to examine perceptions of domestic violence at the community level, argued that women in Cambodia who suffer from domestic violence "are not only suffering from the effects of violence, but are also suffering from the resolution process itself". 

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