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Women in uniform

Women in uniform

Police officials announced this week that 23 female officers are to be elevated to the rank of deputy provincial police chiefs and, in one case, a municipal deputy chief in Phnom Penh.

The positions, announced on the eve of International Women’s Day during a gathering at the Australian Embassy, aim to give greater presence to women in law enforcement and in maintaining safety and public order, officials said.

Deputy National Police Chief Un Sokunthea said at the event that Minister of Interior Sar Kheng had signed a letter last week announcing that officials will seek to recruit women to fill the positions.

“[Sar Kheng] signed the letter in early March, but no official appointment ceremony has been scheduled,” Un Sokunthea said.

She added that training for those taking up the positions would be necessary because there were not enough women with the necessary experience to occupy them.

“Both women police officers and [civilian] women must extend their education in order to perform their duties and responsibilities, and to avoid thinking that they can do nothing,” she said.

Un Sokunthea said the appointment of women as deputy chiefs was part of a larger push to boost the number of women in law enforcement from five percent to 20 percent.

Australian Ambassador Penny Richards said that Australia had helped the National Police to increase their understanding of gender issues to assist in the reduction of violence and support the selection of women for positions of leadership.

“I am pleased to see high-ranking female police officers today,” she said, adding that violence against women remained a concern in developed and developing countries.

The Australian government on Monday also announced a grant of US$82,100 to the local rights group Licadho to fund a project that promotes and protects the rights of women.

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