The Cambodian Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) has launched a 16-day campaign to eradicate gender-based violence and raise awareness of women’s rights.

The campaign, scheduled to start on November 25 to coincide with the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, calls on the government to take further action to end gender-based violence and promote gender equality in Cambodia, according to a CCHR press release dated November 21.

Lim Borin, the CCHR’s project coordinator for gender equality, said the main purposes of the campaign are to reflect on the demands of women activists in the past and to address the challenges of women in the present. The other is to encourage stakeholders have effective strategies in place to protect women and girls.

“We have an online campaign, as well as an in-person meeting to send this message. During and after the Covid-19 crisis, gender-based violence increased, especially between spouses,” he said.

He said some sectors were more prone to violence and discrimination against women, including the textile and entertainment industries. They were often forced to work in hostile work environments, for fear of losing their jobs and access to social protection systems.

“Several female activists have been terminated, or suspended from work, which in turn has affected their income,” he added.

Dok Sovann, head of the women’s committee at the Cambodian Alliance of Trade Unions, said the drive is important because it is universal, and not just a Cambodian issue. She added that the campaign was

designed to inspire women and encourage them to have the courage to seek help for themselves, through both counseling and support services.

“What is important is the participation of relevant ministries and institutions. We need to work together to understand what protections are in place, and for who, exactly,” she said.

“I hope this campaign goes smoothly, no matter how small or large the results,” she added.

Sovann noted that women union members often faced threats and insults when they protested against injustice, and this was one of the issues that could lead to them losing their jobs.

She added that when women’s unions are excluded from discussions or mocked, or when restrictions are placed on their rights to protest or to freedom of speech, it is often an unspoken expression of the threat of violence.

According to the CCHR press release, it is estimated that one in five Cambodian women has experienced violence from their partners, a figure that has risen since the Covid-19 outbreak.