This Life Cambodia (TLC), a non-profit organisation based in Siem Reap province, collected four international awards last week for its confrontational domestic violence video Virtual Reality – Life is Not a Game. The campaign has been widely recognised as a success, notably beating out some established brands and agencies’ work for awards in the past.

“To win an award in this context is incredibly special. It reinforces the importance of the work we are doing to fight domestic violence in Cambodia,” said Borany Chea, a section lead with TLC.

“We love that it puts a spotlight on this issue and keeps it at the front of people’s minds for that bit longer. There is much still to be done, and we continue our work in this area every day. Our creative campaigning is just one branch of the work,” she added.

This Life picked up the coveted Gold MUSE Creative Award for integrated marketing for a non-profit. The MUSE Creative Awards are an international competition for creatives who inspire others to greater heights.

An additional two awards were bestowed on This Life by Dragons of Asia, with the organisation picking up Best Campaign by Country (Cambodia) and a bronze trophy for best cause, charity marketing or public sector campaign.

Dragons of Asia stated that each winning campaign reflects the highest industry standards of strategic relevance, originality, creative execution and effectiveness, reflecting the diversity of marketing communications throughout Asia.

On top of this, This Life’s campaign also took out a silver award at the Global Good Awards for best campaign of the year. The Global Good Awards are all about recognising businesses, NGOs, charities and social enterprises of all shapes and sizes around the world, who are driving social and environmental change.

The video received a gold Asia-Pacific Stevie award for innovation, determined by averaging the scores of more than 100 executives around the world who acted as judges.

The short film features a man using a virtual reality headset. He is shown playing through a simulation of what women really experience when they are the victims of domestic violence.

The film begins with a man wearing the VR headset and playing as the woman in a simulation as she drives her scooter home. It soon becomes apparent that the player loses the game whenever the woman he is playing as is beaten to death by her husband at home and everyone then watches as he tries to avoid that fate in order to “win”.

“Our call to action raised awareness of gender-based violence, engaged community members, influencers and international ambassadors to share their thoughts and encouraged people to act,” said Billy Gorter, This Life’s executive director.

“We also wanted to provide support to women with useful information on who they could reach out to for support, and useful tips on how people could support women experiencing domestic violence,” he added.

The Muse award won by This Life Cambodia campaign. PHOTO SUPPLIED

He said the multiple award winning campaign’s primary objective has been to encourage individuals, communities and local authorities to take action and to come together to support women experiencing violence.

This Life wanted to create an engaging campaign and video, where Cambodians could see and understand the true reality of and the enormous impact that gender-based violence has on women and children as well as highlight the concrete actions that they can take against domestic violence.

“The campaign has resulted in a powerful call to action that has encouraged family, friends and neighbours to Reach Out, Check In and Act, in order to ensure that women are kept safe from harm at all times,” said Gorter.

TLC cited a report by The United Nations Population Fund, which said at least one in five women aged 15 to 49 has experienced physical violence, although the number is likely to be higher.

The organisation said that another study found that 59.1 per cent of married women have experienced physical violence from their husbands or partners and 64 per cent have experienced sexual violence.

“This is often due to feeling ashamed, blaming themselves for their partner’s behaviour or out of fear of retribution,” said Janet Davis, TLC’s fundraising manager.

The short film was released on Facebook in November last year, and has received over 2.5 million views. This exceeded TLC’s ambitious goal of obtaining two million views. It surpassed the views obtained by their previous campaign by 66 per cent.

“Every woman is afraid of violence but every one of us should not be afraid of seeking support. Talk to your family and friends to help you get away from violence,” said GiGi, a TikTok influencer who is taking part in the campaign.

The involvement of influencers has generated a massive dialogue across all age groups and amplified the message to hundreds of thousands of Cambodians.

“We really appreciate you using your voices to strengthen the impact and empower vulnerable women and children in every corner of the country. Thank you so much,” Gorter added.

“As an organisation, we are committed to ending violence against women and our latest campaign is really centered on rallying support across all levels of the community so that, together, we can challenge acceptance of domestic violence head on,” he says.

In the past three years, TLC has won several international awards for their interactive and integrated activism campaigns that have challenged societal norms and traditional Cambodian cultural attitudes about violence against women.