The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) are training regional-level anti-drug experts in nine provinces to encourage women’s participation in preventing the use and distribution of drugs.

The nine provinces are Banteay Meanchey, Prey Veng, Kampong Cham, Ratanakkiri, Mondulkiri, Oddar Meanchey, Kampong Chhnang, Pursat and Preah Vihear.

Ministry undersecretary of state Long Sophally said during a training session in Banteay Meanchey on May 10 that a study of the situation of women in 28 prisons across the capital and provinces found that most female prisoners had committed drug offences. These crimes had disproportionately affected their families, and thus society as a whole.

“Developing regional-level trainers aims to develop the knowledge of women affairs officials so that they can share what they have learned and use it as a basis to mobilise more active participation among women. Older women, mothers and aunts have a part to play in preventing the use, storage and distribution of illegal drugs in our communities,” she said.

Banteay Meanchey deputy governor Ros Sophany said that drugs are one of the leading motivating factors in many crimes, and that they threaten the security of communities and public order. The province and NACD had joined hands to combat the problem of drugs by suppressing drug crimes and offering treatment to addicts.

NACD representative Lim Tong Huot thanked women’s affairs minister Ing Kantha Phavi for implementing the multi-sectoral strategy of the NACD and the government’s plan to combat illegal drugs at all stages.

He added that the participation of every community was important to prevent the spread of the drug problem in both urban and rural areas. The issue affected the health of the entire population, particularly young men and women. Fighting the scourge of drug addiction requires all segments of society to work together, he said.

According to NACD, in 2021 Cambodia recorded 16,264 drug users. Of that number, civil servants accounted for two per cent; students three per cent; workers 25 per cent; businesspeople seven per cent; the unemployed 34 per cent; and the homeless 10 per cent. The 2021 report did not specify the remaining 19 per cent.