After consultations with hundreds of survivors, the government yesterday launched its latest strategy to battle entrenched practices of gender-based violence.
Moving beyond the awareness-raising focus of its predecessor policy, the newly inaugurated Second National Action Plan on the Prevention of Violence Against Women 2014-2018 aims instead to coordinate prevention strategies and service responses for female survivors.
During more than a dozen national-level consultations before the launch of the action plan, victims of violence reported difficulties in accessing legal protection, health care and counseling, according to a UN Women assessment.
“The new plan is aimed at ensuring that women and girls receive legal protection equally by putting women into the process of making and enforcing laws as well as by ensuring effective service delivery to victims of domestic violence, sexual abuses and human trafficking,” said Minister of Women’s Affairs Ing Kantha Phavi.
The government estimates that more than a quarter of Cambodian women experience physical or sexual violence, often at the hands of a partner or family member.
NGOs working to abate the prevalence of gender violence have long maintained that Cambodia needs better legal enforcement in order to end impunity of gender crimes and curtail the abuses.
But a 2014 survey found that the victims themselves often obstruct the legal system, in large part due to fears of losing the family’s sole breadwinner, as well as a lack of trust in the legal system’s ability to offer protection.
Phavi yesterday emphasised the new plan’s priority on recruiting more female police officers so that women are more willing to report violence.
“When women are in danger and raped, who can they depend on when all police are male? We are short of female police, so we have a lot of problems in the government’s structures,” said Thida Khus, chair of the Commission to Promote Women in Politics.