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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Gender: Violence Against Women in Cambodia

Violence refers to any act that violates an individual’s physical, verbal, psychological, or sexual rights, by means of force, threat, battering, coercion, or arbitrary deprivation of liberty in public or in private life that results in physical or psychological harm or suffering of the abused. Violence against women is widely prevalent in Cambodia. The incidence of domestic violence has remained static over the past decade, while reporting of rape has increased. Reliable data on the incidence of sexual exploitation is unavailable; however, it appears to be entrenched in Cambodia. Data on sexual harassment is not widely available; however, recent studies indicate that it is more likely to occur in informal vulnerable occupations.

Violence against women is present in all societies; however, higher levels of violence against women tend to be correlated with high levels of general violence, and with significant gender inequalities. Gender inequality, including traditional attitudes that treat women and children as having lesser status and rights then men, and which prize women’s chastity, obedience and respect for their husbands and punish women who appear to be more sexually open, reinforce and support violence against women.

There are many problems related to violence against women, included domestic violence, trafficking, and rape.
I Domestic Violence

1.1. Definition
Domestic violence is physical, sexual, psychological (Including insults, threats and social isolation) and economic abuse or coercion by one (or more) persons in order to central another person(s) that live(s) in the same household living under one roof (MoWA 2008: Cambodia Gender Assessment).

1.2. Causes of Making Domestic Violence
There are many causes of making domestic violence which nowadays Cambodian people confront, however, some causes which occur more often are as following:
- Poverty
- Drinking alcohol
- Men and women have other special friends
- Drug Abuse
- Gambling
- No tolerance
- Arranged Marriage
- Jealous each other, etc

According to the evaluation of Ministry of Women’s Affairs (WoMA) and Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2008, domestic violence remains high in Cambodia, during the past decade, between one-in-four and one-in-five women reported having experienced violence from their spouse.

Domestic violence is consistently underreported by victims. The most recent of national survey, CDHS 2005, found that 22% of women had experienced physical, sexual or emotional abuse from their spouse within the 12 months prior to the survey.

Domestic violence is often correlated with spousal control and attempts by husbands to control their wives’ behavior are often a precursor to violent behavior (ibid[1]:288). 85 percent of women whose husbands exercised no marital control had never experienced any violence from their husband compared to 45% of women whose husbands were very controlling.

Incidence of domestic violence is strongly correlated with alcohol use by the perpetrator. Of women interviewed in the CDHS, only 48% of those whose husbands drank very often had never experienced violence compared to 78% of all married women (ibid:296). Victims and perpetrators of domestic violence are also more likely to have witnessed violence between their parents when they were growing up. 25 percent of men and 20% of women in the baseline study had seen their father hit their mother, a further indication that prevalence levels have been static over time.

According to ADHOC report 2008, there are 1,167 cases of violence against women and children have been reported in 2008, of which 674 cases were domestic violence and in 2007, there are 632 domestic violence. It found that the numbers of violent cases have increased gradually.

II Trafficking of Women and Children
2.1. Definition
Trafficking means buying or selling something illegally included human beings and goods. Trafficking of women is illegal under the law on Suppression of Kidnapping, trafficking, Exploitation of Human Persons and the Constitution (CEDAW 2005).

2.2. Causes of Making Trafficking
Most of issues were happening when people faced situation below:
- Poverty
- Drug Abuse
- Immigration
- Astray
- Swindle from friends and other people

Reliable data on the incidence of trafficking and sexual exploitation is unavailable in Cambodia; however, NGOs report that the incidence of trafficking is increasing, particularly to overseas destinations (Licadho 2006,2007). Most women were swindled to work in abroad such as Thailand, Malaysia, Korea, China, and so on. Those had faced sexual violation when they arrived at the host country. They were forced to work in houses as waitresses. Children are trafficked for sexual exploitation and forced labor in organized begging rings, soliciting, street vending, and flower selling.

While national data on the prevalence of sexual exploitation is unavailable, several recent studies have estimated that around 30% of sex workers are forced. An estimated 38% of women had entered sex work through the sale of virginity; most were underage.

Despite common perceptions that clients of sex workers are predominantly Western expatriates, most clients of sex workers in Cambodia are Asian men, particularly in the virginity trade. In a recent study conducted for IOM, 49% of clients buying virginity were Cambodian men.
There are 1,167cases of violence against women and children have been reported by ADHOC in 2008, of which 74 cases of human trafficking against 46 cases of human trafficking in 2007.

III Rape of Women and Children
3.1. Definition
Rape is a physical invasion of a sexual nature on a person committed by a person under circumstances that are coercive or committed without one’s knowledge, by the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda (MoWA 2005).

The reported incidence of rape and sexual assault is increasing notably. Cases reported to NGOs and the media are likely to represent only a proportion of total cases. However, reports of rape to NGOs and the media are increasing from year to year. Licadho reported an increase in rape cases from 66 to 68 between 2005 and 2006, while the number of rape cases reported in the media increased from 286 to 311 (Licadho 2007). Similarly, ADHOC reported an increase from 380 to 478 rape cases between 2005 and 2006. Increased reporting of rape is likely a result of increasing awareness however the type and severity of rape cases also appears to be worsening.

Three percent of women in the CDHS 2005 reported that the first time they had intercourse it was against their will. In addition, 3% of married women reported they had been raped by their husband.
Gang rape of sex workers, garment workers and women working in vulnerable occupations such as beer promotion and karaoke bars continues to be reported to NGOs and in the media. The incidence of gang rape appears to be increasing both among sex workers and other women. Gang rape appears to be more commonly practiced by specific groups of men, including some groups of young urban men and university students, some members of the police and gang members. A recent USAID study found that 90% of sex workers had been raped in 2006 and that most of the rapes were gang-rapes.

Of growing concern is the increase in reporting of rape of under-age girls and children to NGOs and the media (Licadho 2006, 2007). More than 70% of the victims reported to ADHOC were children aged 5 to 18 years old (ADHOC 2006). There are 1,167 cases of violence against women and children have been reported by ADHOC in 2008, which 419 cases were rape. There are 1,201 cases in 2007, 523 rapes.

IV Media Mainstreaming

The Women’s Media Centre of Cambodia is a unique media organization working to improve status of women in Cambodia via producing TV and radio programs which are broadcast on Radio FM102, local TV channels, Contact provinces, and Mobile Broadcasting Units (MBUs). The issues which were raised the most are domestic violence, trafficking of women and children, and rape of women and children. For example, in the drama entitled “Bangkorng Vormeas” or in English “Golden Vine”, it mentioned about a wife who was physically and psychologically violated by her husband. Even though she was just delivered a baby, she was sexually raped by her husband. This kind of violation is called sexual abuse. At the meantime, the husband who could not understand and feel her pain tried to revenge his wife, who rejected not to sleep with, by bringing a prostitute girl to sleep at the house in front of his sick wife. Without bearing more pain, the wife committed suicide, but she was survived by the commune chief and her neighbors. Somehow, the psychological domestic violence is invisible. In this drama, it also showed the impact of migrating to other countries because of domestic violence causes.

There are still many video and radio programs which were produced to meet the need of listener audiences and viewer audiences who could learn from the drama such as “Develop women, Develop society”, “The Generosity”, “Scale of Justice” and educational radio programs such as “Women speaking out on Human Right” and “The Road of Law in Cambodia”.

According to the WMC Annual Evaluation 2008, it showed that the number of people accessed to TV and Radio in provinces and cities are different. The 90% of the respondent had to either TV or radio or both within last one month. The access to television is more than radio in Phnom Penh. The accessibly of radio and television is same in the rural area, with radio having slightly more than TV. This means that radio is still primary channel of communication due to non availability of electricity for running TV and widespread poverty in the rural area. As income of the community increases they also adopt modern lifestyle and use TV instead of radio, as in Phnom Penh where TV has more accessibility than radio. In rural area Male had more access to radio and television than female. In Phnom Penh, female has more access to both radio and television. The reason for this can be, the interviewer were instructed to do interview of only female in the household and interview the male who are outside the house either in the street, field or workplace. In Phnom Penh, interviewer must have come across many Moto taxi drivers, who have less accessibility to either radio or TV.

When the husband is angry, the wife should keep silent. Rice boiled over medium fire never burns. In Cambodia society women are expected to avoid conflict; otherwise she would be provoking him to be violent. The response from focus group discussion and interviewer feedback of the main reasons of men beating their wives is drinking and second wife.

In the WMC Annual Evaluation 2008 on 399 respondents, respondents were asked that “Do you think that violence against women is wrongful behavior and a criminal act?” The 94.6% of the respondent agreed with the statement. However, 13% female respondent and 12% male respondent answered yes to question “In the last 12months, has your husband or any other partner ever slapped, kicked, brunt, dragged or beaten up or thrown something at you that could hurt you?” The 4% female respondent told that their sexual partner physically force her to have sexual intercourse when she did not want to.

V Conclusion
In summary, the domestic violence is still the main concern which government and NGOs must pay hot attention to. More than this, the issues of rape, particularly rape of women and children are increasing year to year. People are still receiving very little information on the issues they would face in their life and in community. With strong support from donors, UN Agencies and Government Institutions, we hope the issues would solve properly and legally. At last, our country will be in a splendor.

Written by: Ms. Yorn Channita, Panhasastra University of Cambodia (PUC)

[1] India business insight database

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