Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Ongoing challenges in Kingdom's efforts to end domestic violence




Ongoing challenges in Kingdom's efforts to end domestic violence

Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi (centre) speaks during a meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday, where the progress of the Second National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children was discussed. Photo supplied
Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi (centre) speaks during a meeting in Phnom Penh yesterday, where the progress of the Second National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children was discussed. Photo supplied

Ongoing challenges in Kingdom's efforts to end domestic violence

Slow action from courts and police, a dire lack of mental health counselling and sparse government funding were named as ongoing challenges in Cambodia’s quest to eliminate violence against women at a conference yesterday.

The ministries of women’s affairs, culture and fine arts, information and education, along with civil society groups, took stock at the meeting, which marked the halfway point in the implementation of the government’s Second National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women and Children (2014-2018).

Ren Samphors, a team leader for a Siem Reap peace shelter run by women’s NGO Banteay Srei, delivered a compelling example of their work in the form of a 6-year-old girl who was raped last year.

He said Banteay Srei, together with Legal Aid Cambodia and the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation, had supported the victim to “become spiritually stronger”, but the police and courts had been slow to arrest the offender – a 14-year-old minor with a prior offence on his record – and prosecute him.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi said that while government statistics had not recorded a spike in violent cases, she feared the violence was now more acute. “What we are really concerned about is the form of that violence is even more serious, because more and more people are drinking more alcohol and using drugs,” she said.

Phavi said education and awareness were sorely needed, pointing out that many Cambodian women still believed their husbands were entitled to beat them.

She cited an example in Stung Treng, where a woman appealed to authorities to release her husband by saying he was “just playing a joke”, despite needing multiple stitches after he beat her and split her head open.

But Gender and Development for Cambodia executive director Ros Sopheap yesterday warned against blaming the victim of violence.

“It is time for us to move on and stop blaming victims. If we could help the domestic-violence victims to ensure that their daily life is stable as before, in terms of financial [independence] . . . that would give them a lot of choice and also this would encourage other women to stand [up],” she said.

“Implementation of the law is still not yet transparent; we are not sure whether the police accept or finish the . . . complaints.”

Doung Thavery, chief of anti-human trafficking police in Siem Reap, said police response to domestic violence incidents depended on the severity of the case.

“In a middle-offence case, the district police need to do a compromise with the victim and offender . . . If we found out it was a big problem [such as rape or serious injury], there will be no more compromise – we need to solve that issue through the legal procedure,” she said.

The conference resolved to establish a reporting system for ministries to increase accountability, as well as alter the action plan to adapt to the realities “on the ground”, but Sopheap added the meeting would have been more productive with a stronger police presence and an open discussion.

MOST VIEWED

  • School reopening to be postponed until November

    Minister of Education Hang Chuon Naron on Tuesday wrote to Prime Minister Hun Sen requesting a delay of school reopening across the Kingdom until November, when the new academic year begins. In his letter, Chuon Naron said the postponement is warranted to avoid the new

  • Foreigners in Kingdom must now register in FPCS system

    The Ministry of Interior’s General Department of Immigration (GDI) announced that it would not grant visa extensions to foreigners staying in Cambodia if their names are not listed on the Foreigners Present in Cambodia System (FPCS) by July 1. Foreign nationals can register in the

  • Covid-19 at ‘alarming rate’, health ministry says

    The Covid-19 risk level for individual transmission is at an “alarming rate” in the Kingdom and its probability is “not low”, warned Health Ministry spokesperson Or Vandine. “Cambodia’s coronavirus scenario is classified as being at an early stage of the pandemic because of ongoing

  • Mandatory quarantine for 30,000 workers begins

    Some of the roughly 30,000 workers from factories and enterprises across the Kingdom who went on leave during Khmer New Year began their government-imposed 14-day quarantine on Monday. Speaking at a press conference while visiting workers at the Phnom Penh Special Economic Zone on Monday, Ministry

  • Unemployed to get $40 per month

    The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training has instructed enterprises, business owners and travel agencies in five provinces to prepare the proper forms for the suspension of employment contracts. This, it said, will make it easier for the ministry to transfer $40 a month to workers

  • Gov’t travel ban flouted

    While the majority of Cambodians have paid heed to Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order to stay put and not travel during the Khmer New Year – the holidays of which were also postponed – several hundred have left Phnom Penh nonetheless. They have allegedly breached provincial

  • G20 energy ministers struggle to finalise oil output cuts

    Top oil producers struggled to finalise production cuts during a virtual summit held by Group of 20 (G20) energy ministers on Friday, despite US President Donald Trump’s mediation efforts to end a standoff with Mexico. The final G20 communique appeared to gloss over simmering divisions

  • Kingdom revises travel restriction order

    The government on Friday eased the district and provincial border restrictions issued on Thursday. People are now allowed to cross districts within their provinces. Phnom Penh and Kandal province are to be treated as a single region where people are allowed to travel freely. In

  • Private schools struggling

    The Cambodian Higher Education Association has claimed that 113 private educational establishments are facing bankruptcy because of their inability to pay rent and staff salaries in light of nationwide school closures caused by the Covid-19 outbreak. It said the financial trouble started when the Ministry of

  • Khmer New Year holidays postponed

    In an effort to halt Covid-19 infections in the Kingdom, Prime Minister Hun Sen has postponed the Khmer New Year holidays scheduled from April 13 to 16. While the people will not have their usual break, nor will there be any public celebrations or gatherings at pagodas,