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Tuk-tuk drivers recruited to battle gender violence

A civil society group has pinpointed an unlikely group to help solve the problem of gender-based violence: tuk-tuk drivers.

People Health Development (PHD), an NGO, yesterday held an event in Phnom Penh’s Russey Keo district to highlight the progress of tuk-tuk drivers it has trained to end violence against women and girls.

PHD teaches drivers different ways to help, from reporting cases of domestic violence to offering vulnerable women rides to safety.

“We noticed that tuk-tuk drivers could be key agents of change in the community – they see everything, they can report on things,” said Ou Ratanak, PHD’s executive director. “We want them to be the key drivers in combating gender violence.”

Ratanak said drivers were uniquely placed to witness and intervene in cases of abuse or harassment. They frequently drive groups of women to work and are deeply embedded in local communities.

“Whenever we ask them what they’ve seen, they always say, ‘I’ve seen a lot, I hear a lot, but what can I do?’” Ratanak said. “So we create a system for them.”

One prominent gender expert agreed that tuk-tuk drivers could use their ubiquity to help stop violence against women.

“Tuk-tuk drivers are in public places all the time and often wait for clients at night,” said Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, an NGO. “If they realise they can stop gender-based violence, I think that’s really good.”

PHD said 180 drivers in three city districts had taken part in trainings. It aims to train a total of 240 before the project ends in November.

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