Cambodia: Violence against Women and Information Communication Technologies




Violence
against women (VAW) is prevalent in Cambodia despite being
under-reported. This paper attempts to present the widespread
phenomena of VAW and seeks to find the connection between VAW and the
role of information and communication
technologies (ICTs). Domestic
violence remained high over the past decade and
reports of rape increased. Reliable data on
the incidence of sexual exploitation is unavailable, although it
appears to be entrenched in Cambodian society.1
Traditional gender relations assign women a lower status than men;
with women receiving less education and are
typically not well represented in public decision-making
processes outside the immediate household.
VAW happens in almost every woman’s life but is rarely disclosed.
All forms of VAW usually take place under the veil of silence and
shame due to fear of stigmatisation and a strong sense of obligation
to keep family’s reputations intact. Violence against women must
therefore be viewed in the context of a wider culture of violence and
impunity in which violence is an accepted way of resolving conflicts,
and perpetrators are rarely punished2.

The
government and many non-governmental organisations, whether
individually or collectively, have been working to protect women’s
human rights, on specific issues such as domestic violence,
trafficking, rape, etc. The government National Plan on the
protection of women against violence has been adopted by the Council
of Ministers as guidance for further intervention. Progress
has been achieved in strengthening the legal framework to address
violence against women including the Cambodian Constitution
and eight laws adopted in relation to protecting women’s rights.
Cambodia has signed The
Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against
Women (CEDAW),
is a member of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) and has
ratified more than 10 international instruments providing fundamental
protection for female workers. Besides this, Cambodia also committed
itself to fulfil the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). In relation
to ICT, there was a draft National Policy that is not yet finalised
and approved. Despite the Prime Minister’s calls for all ministries
and government institutions to mainstream gender into national
policies, it is hardly seen in the draft ICT national policy.
Due
to lack of ICT infrastructure, internet is only available at tourist
destination cities and provinces at a very high price ($0.5/hour). It
is not affordable to people whose income is lower than $2 per day.
Moreover, the ICT use and awareness of how
it can be strategically used to combat violence against women is very
limited. Only a
few local organisations are even familiar with the use of ICT. While
other women’s organisations and networks worldwide
are already using online resources in a
myriad of ways to mobilise support and share experiences,
most Cambodian
women are not familiar with the use of ICT. However,
with the rapid growth of ICT around the globe, people are also
concerned about the use of ICT for other purposes that are against
human rights.

In Cambodian
cases, Khmer
Sex video on CDs can be bought from the road and in public places
for less than $1/CD. Meant originally for personal use only, such
recorded sex images and acts are now used to shame
the girls involved in the video in their own communities. Parents
taught their 7-year-old daughter how to film them having sex with a
mobile phone in utter violation of the
girl child’s rights. The recording was also transferred widely from
phones to phones. Against the will of a well-known female
actress, her naked half body image was widely distributed and
transferred through Bluetooth3.
We can see
that the growth of internet tends to push the limits of a society's
attitudes towards acceptable media images.
Technology is moving across boundaries faster than the
law can address.

This country
paper draws from many sources and websites, with materials in both
hard copies and in electronic formats, including those from the
Ministry of Women’s Affairs, NGOs, CEDAW, ILO, UN, the
Association for Progressive Communications and others.

In conclusion, there is a long way to go for Cambodia before it
reaches a knowledge-based society where ICT is accessible and is a
friendly tool for ending VAW.


Recommendations
include conducting a national research on violence against
women in Cambodia; joint work by civil society and
government; research to identify indicators of Cambodian
population awareness on violence against women in response to the
Cambodia Millennium Development Goals 2015; craft strategies for
the strategic use of ICT to end violence against women and
mobilise resources. There is also a need for an analysis of the
advancement of ICT and its social integration so that ICT is
available for everyone including women. It is imperative that
women are able to draw on available resources
to combat violence against women, and receive the
skill-building necessary to do this.References:


1

A Fair Share for Women-Cambodia Gender Assessment ” Ministry of
Women’s Affairs of Cambodia, April 2008


2
“ A Fair Share for Women-Cambodia Gender
Assessment ” Ministry of Women’s Affairs of Cambodia, April 2008






3Bluetooth
is a wireless protocol for exchanging data over short distances from
fixed and mobile devices

Publication date: 
Miércoles, Noviembre 4, 2009
Year of publication: 
2009