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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Violence against women on the rise, says government

Violence against women on the rise, says government

A majority of women say domestic abuse is acceptable in certain cases,

even as incidents of gender-based violence rises, govt reports

ABUSE against women and girls is on the rise in Cambodia, according to a government report released Tuesday.

Nearly a quarter of all females in Cambodia have suffered from domestic violence, and, increasingly, young girls have become targets of sexual assault, according to the "Cambodian Gender Assessment Survey 2008".

The report, released by the Ministry of Women's Affairs, said the growing use of drugs and alcohol by men was leading malicious behaviour against female Cambodians - including gang rape as a "sport" - and called on law enforcement agencies to step up efforts to stop it.  

[WE HAVE] taken significant steps to reduce violence against women.

The report also said that more than half of all women felt domestic violence was justified in some cases in what it called a mentality of passive acceptance that challenged efforts to end the problem.
It said education may be the biggest hurdle to changing the attitudes that allow attacks on women to go unreported.

Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi said in a press release that the problem should be seen alongside achievements made to curb it.

The government "has taken significant steps to reduce violence against women", she said, referring to laws on the prevention of domestic abuse as well as government benchmarks to reduce violence against women and human trafficking.

But, she added that "there is still much work to be done to ensure that these achievements result in meaningful and widespread improvements to the lives of women and children affected by violence".

Thun Saray, president of the Cambodian human rights group Adhoc, cautioned against simply looking at passed legislation as a barometer of progress, calling the domestic violence law poorly implemented and short of meeting its goals.

Speaking out

The government released its findings to coincide with the UN's International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women, for which a local UN agency had collected 5,000 signatures of support from across the country.  

The United Nation Women's Fund (Unifem) campaign said the Cambodian signatures, along with similar lists from around the world, would be presented yesterday to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon.

While cases are rarely reported, violence against women is one of the most prevalent types of human rights abuse in Cambodia, according to Fleur Lanham, a communications officer for Unifem Cambodia.

"Each signature makes it clear that ending violence is a top priority and people around the world care enough to send this message," she told the Post.



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