BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA
The Royal Government of Cambodia has announced that the domestic violence against women has significantly declined. The announcement was made on June 29th in a new result of the “Violence Against Women: 2009 Follow-Up Survey”, surveyed by the Ministry of Women's Affairs in cooperation with development partners, showed that domestic violence against women declined from 64 percent in 2005 to 53 percent in 2009.
The Launching Ceremony of the “Violence Against Women: 2009 Follow-Up Survey” was presided over by H.E. Dr. Ing Kantha Phavi, Minister of Women’s Affairs with representatives from government agencies and development partners who attended.
The Minister said that the “Violence Against Women: 2009 Follow-Up Survey” was cooperated with development partners including the German GTZ, UNDP, UNFIPA, UNIFEM, and AusAID, aiming to inform on relevant changes in behaviors and attitudes related to domestic violence in particular in Cambodia.
The survey has recently completed a follow-up survey on attitudes and behavior related to violence against women among spouses and towards other families’ members in Cambodia, she added.
“This is the first time that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs and development partners have conducted the Follow-Up Survey of the Violence Against Women. This survey was made to inform relevant changes in behaviors and attitudes related to domestic violence in particular in Cambodia,” she told The Southeast Asia Weekly during an interview after the launching of the “Violence Against Women: 2009 Follow-Up Survey”.
The Minister stated that the result survey showed that the misconducts with such behavior declined to 53 percent in 2009 compared to 64 percent in 2005. She added that the result also showed that majority of Cambodians are aware of the new law on prevention of domestic violence, and more than 80 percent of women and 91 percent of men said domestic violence in all serious forms shall be avoided.
She emphasized that in 2005 the Royal Government of Cambodia adopted the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of the Victims. In the same year, the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, with financial supports from development partners has conducted a baseline survey on violence against women to gain insight into attitudes towards, a well as occurrence of domestic violence in Cambodia.
“The five years of implementing the Domestic Violence Law and much awareness raising work, a follow-up survey has conducted to measure the achievements, and the survey shows that Domestic Violence Law is known within almost the entire population and is seen as a very helpful,” she said. “Furthermore, violence in the family is much less accepted in Cambodia society then back in 2005,” she added.
Mr. Heinrich-Jurgen Schilling, GTZ Country Director, said that domestic violence against women remains a major issue in Cambodia. He added that combating violence against women became a policy issue in Cambodia as early as in the 1990s. And it was a very important milestone for combating violence against women when children were included into the Cambodia Millennium Development Goals.
Ever since then, the achievement in this has been regularly measured in several surveys, to begin with the survey of the NGO-Project Against Domestic Violence in 1996, followed by representative surveys such as the Cambodian Demographic and health survey in 2000 and 2005 that specifically provided insights in the prevalence of domestic violence, he said.
“Since the “Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of the Victims” entered into force in 2005, a specific legal framework provided clear responsibilities and procedures for different government institutions that were in charge to prevent violence,” he said. “Consequently, this allowed for an event more specific assessment of the achievements, particularly trough the case monitoring by local authorities, the police and the courts.”
He pointed out that the baseline survey was conducted on a representative sample in 14 provinces in Cambodia and was, with its social focus on awareness, attitudes and behavior, by all means unique as compared to the international standards.
According to Mr. Heinrich-Jurgen Schilling, despite all efforts to combat violence against women until the year 2005, the key figures from the 2005 baseline survey were alarming: 64 percent of the Cambodian population knew a husband physically abused his wife; 22.5 percent of the female respondents has already suffered violence from their husbands at least once in their lifetime; 30 percent of men and 26 percent of women in the same said that violent acts by husbands towards their wives-acts that can cause death such as throwing acid, stabling or shooting-are sometimes acceptable; and although most women do no agree that “a wife should tolerate beatings to keep the family together”, of 55 percent of women agreed with at least one reason which justified a husband beating his wife.
He said that many women have been subjected to sexual and physical violence often committed by their husbands. Fear of retaliation and financial costs of bringing a case to court, or even in obtaining a medical certificate from a doctor to prove the abuse, also discourage many Cambodian women from speaking out. /