The Ministry of Women’s Affairs plans to form an inter-ministerial working group soon to monitor, disseminate, educate and take action against those who spread and share pornographic pictures or videos on social media.
The move comes after Prime Minister Hun Sen denounced live streaming sellers who were using women dressed in revealing clothing to attract more viewers.
However, civil societies have said that the measures will only result in stifling the rights and freedoms of women.
The ministry’s Department of Information deputy director Pen Kunthea said on Tuesday that after Hun Sen’s recommendation, her ministry and other relevant ones discussed ways to stop online sellers using pornographic imagery, such as showing excessive cleavage, and eradicating it from social media.
The discussion led to the establishment of a working group comprising the ministries of Women’s Affairs; Information; Posts and Telecommunications; Interior, and Culture and Fine Arts.
“We formed the working group to examine problems relating to excessively sexy and revealing pictures online. We also want to monitor anything similar that affects our society, culture, traditions, customs and especially women’s values,” she said.
Kunthea said as a first step, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs requested the police to work to educate women who displayed cleavage online on appropriateness. She also said, should they fail to follow the recommendations of the police once informed, the law would be enforced against them.
Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts spokesman Long Bunna Sireyvath said he had not yet received information regarding the plan to form the group. However, he welcomed participation with the inter-ministerial working group.
“Although the online sellers had displayed cleavage which did not relate directly to art, it does involve our culture. Accordingly, the Ministry of Culture and Fine Arts will contribute to solving the problem along with other authorities.
“If this working group is formed, it will be a positive force for maintaining social order in our culture and traditions. We want to maintain the values of our Khmer women. The actions of these sellers devalue our women and make men do bad things,” he said.
Bunn Rachana, the executive director of women’s rights organisation Klahaan, said restrictions on the rights of freedom of expression and the expression of women’s bodies would not help society in its development.
She said it will prohibit women from wearing certain clothes, which will remove their right to chose what they wear.
“I cannot say whether or not I am interested in joining the working group that the ministry plans to form.
“If the group is formed in a sense to restrict the freedoms of women, then I don’t think it should be formed. If the group is formed to educate, spread, promote and enhance the rights of freedom of women, it is a necessary thing,” she said.
The Ministry of Women’s Affairs on February 24 issued a press release saying that the measures had been met with enthusiasm from the public because people wanted to stop the sharing of pornographic pictures on social media among online users.
The statement said: “The measures aim to protect the rights and dignity of humans, especially women. The measures increase the wellbeing of citizens and preserve and promote the traditions of our nation.
“The measures are aimed at a small number of online sellers who use pornographic pictures that contradict the laws and are not aimed at restricting the rights and freedoms of Khmer women.”
At the annual meeting of the Cambodian National Council for Women to review last year’s work and set goals for 2020, on February 17, Prime Minister Hun Sen instructed the relevant authorities to educate online sellers who use pornographic pictures or nudity before taking any concrete action.
Until now, the police have detained only one online seller. The seller was initially warned and advised about the inappropriateness of her content on social media sites. However, she failed to follow the recommendations and has since been sent to court for legal proceedings.