Cambodia strengthens its strategy to end the widespread violence against women

Date: Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Author: Mariken Harbitz

Phnom Penh, Cambodia – The Cambodian Government has strengthened its national strategy to prevent violence against women, which experts say continues to be widespread in the country.

Attending the July 4 meeting are, from left, Ludgera Klemp from the German Embassy; Ing Kanta Phavi, Minister of Women´s Affairs of Cambodia; and Wenny Kusuma, Country Representative for UN Women Cambodia. Photo: Ministry of Women’s Affairs

The Government adopted its Second National Action Plan on Violence against Women in December 2014. The plan, which covers 2014-2018, focuses on primary prevention and aims to move the country beyond awareness raising to “learning by doing”. It pairs government officials with United Nations and civil society experts who advise them on how to intervene early on to prevent violence, how to ensure accountability and transparency in anti-violence efforts, and how to make sure that these efforts meet the needs of the victims.

On 4 July, 14 government ministries and 26 civil society groups met to discuss how to strengthen the implementation of the plan as it heads to the half-way point. UN Women co-chaired the meeting along with the German Government and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs. At the meeting, the Government established a new reporting system to increase accountability from line ministries and identify and tackle challenges in their responses to violence against women. The system aims to strengthen information-sharing, coordination and monitoring as well as accountability and transparency.

At least 1 in 5 women in Cambodia say they have suffered physical and/or sexual violence, according to a Ministry of Women’s Affairs survey that was finalized last December. The survey of 3,574 women across Cambodia was done with support from UN Women and the World Health Organization (WHO).

“All this data is alarming and shows that the response to ending violence against women is far from being adequate,” UN Women Country Representative Wenny Kusuma said at the meeting.

The Minister of Women´s Affairs, Ing Kantha Phavi, told the meeting that the brutality is getting worse. “As we speak here today, women are being subjected to abuse and violence or even killed by their spouses and partners across our country,” she said. It was not, Ms. Phavi said, just a problem within families. “This is a community problem which drastically affects our society and our economy,” she said.

Ros Sopheap, Executive Director of Gender and Development for Cambodia, an NGO, raised an increasing concern about cases of extreme sadism in domestic abuse. Many of the assailants never face legal consequences, she said.

“We are worried that the cases of violence are very bad and crueler than there were previously,” she said.

Ms. Sopheap said education was the best way to reduce the violence, alongside the court system and the police. Ms. Kusuma said all ministries must be involved if the anti-violence efforts are to be effective.

For more information:

Please contact: Mariken Harbitz
Communication, Coordination and Advocacy Consultant
UN Women Cambodia