Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - NGOs see gap in rights record

NGOs see gap in rights record

A lesbian couple joins a gay pride event in Phnom Penh in May
A lesbian couple joins a gay pride event in Phnom Penh in May. The CCHR yesterday released a report condemning Cambodia’s lack of sexual and reproductive health rights. SCOTT HOWES

NGOs see gap in rights record

A group of NGOs condemned rampant abuses of sexual and reproductive health rights in Cambodia last week, just days before the government submitted a human rights progress report to the United Nations.

The Cambodian Center for Human Rights, in cooperation with the Asia Pacific Network of People Living with HIV/AIDS and the Sexual Right Initiative, made public on Thursday a joint statement sent to the United Nations Periodic Review as an addendum to the human rights record submitted by the government yesterday.

Cambodia was last part of the periodic review process, which analyses the human rights records of UN member states every four years, in 2009.

None of the 91 recommendations accepted by Cambodia during the last review addressed sexual and reproductive health rights or gender discrimination.

“These issues are not typically considered human rights priorities when it comes to Cambodia,” Nuon Sidara, project coordinator of sexual orientation and gender identity at the CCHR, said.

The joint report seeks to put the topic back on the review’s agenda and faults the state for an array of sexual and reproductive health problems.

“Substantive improvements with regards to the rights of women, sex workers, LGBT Cambodians and people living with HIV will require concrete action by the government,” Sidara said.

According to the report, health centres are chronically understaffed and under-funded, with only 43 per cent meeting minimum operational guidelines.

The report also found heinous hate crimes committed against LGBT people, including gangs forcing sex on transgender individuals, and families believing they can cure the “mental disease” of homosexuality by throwing water on the victim.

HIV-positive women were also found to frequently encounter discrimination and misinformed health professionals – a significant number of women interviewed had been encouraged or even coerced into sterilisation.

Despite the bleak situation painted in the report, some rights groups say conditions are improving.

“If you compare how many more women know today that we have rights. . . there has been progress. But what remains problematic is that women continue struggling for access to information,” Ros Sopheap, executive director of Gender and Development in Cambodia, said.

The Ministry of Education, which was criticised in the report for failing to successfully implement comprehensive sexual education, defended its position.

“We have launched a new curriculum and given the manual to schools, so what do they want us to do?” said Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron. “It is part of the culture that is hard to teach, and we cannot regulate culture.”

The Ministry of Health could not be reached and the Ministry of Women declined to comment. ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY MOM KUNTHEAR AND AMELIA WOODSIDE

MOST VIEWED

  • First Cambodian woman graduates from Japan’s NDA military academy

    A few years ago, Meach Sithyka Jessica became the first-ever Cambodian woman to graduate from the US Military Academy at West Point, and since then her courage and determination has served as an inspiration for other Cambodian women. Similarly, Ly Chansocheata became the first Cambodian

  • Construction begins on $1.5B Kampot seaport

    The International Multi-Purpose Logistics and Port Centre, principally invested by Kampot Logistics and Port Co Ltd and projected to cost $1.5 billion, has officially broken ground in Bokor town, Kampot province. The multi-purpose logistics and port centre, located in Prek Tnaot commune, will be built on

  • Cambodia eyes key role in electronics, auto hubs in SEA

    Two roadmaps, part of the LDC’s economic diversification plan, were designed to see it through its migration process, but experts say the journey might be arduous, particularly in the presence of two established hubs in the region By 2028, Cambodia hopes to have exited the

  • Hun Neng, lawmaker and PM’s brother, passes away aged 72

    Hun Neng, chairman of the 4th Commission of the National Assembly, has passed away from heart disease at the age of 72 on the afternoon of May 5, according to the Ministry of Information. Hun Neng is the older brother of Prime Minister Hun Sen, and was

  • CCC team off on US business trip

    The Kingdom’s leading economists and private sector representatives have called on the US to renew its tax preferential status for Cambodian exports, as a Cambodia Chamber of Commerce (CCC) delegation departed for a weeklong business visit to the US, where they will meet with

  • PM meets with US business giants

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has met with a number of major US companies who have expressed interest in investing in Cambodia, in a meeting convened by the US-ASEAN Business Council (US-ABC). A delegation of companies – including Amazon, Meta, Chevron, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil, Ford, Visa and Pernod