Cambodia 31 Mar 2015 00:00
Three women have received funding and technological support from the Asia Foundation to develop mobile applications in order to raise awareness of domestic violence in Cambodia and open the door for women who want to report abuses by mobile phone. According to the organization, 93.7% of Cambodians currently have a phone.
Sum Dany’s application is the first under development. "There will be four videos. One will give an explanation of the meaning of violence. Another will explain the risks faced by women and girls. The third will show the laws of violence and victims’ protection that can help them. Finally, the fourth will explain how traditional conduct discriminates against women. Some recommendations will be made. Then there will be a game with questions about gender violence”, she says.
22% of Cambodian women claim to have suffered from physical, sexual or emotional abuse from their husbands. 5% of Cambodian men have participated in at least one gang rape, one of the highest percentages of countries in Asia. Moreover, 38.4% of Cambodian men who committed an act of sexual aggression did not suffer any consequences for doing so.
Some women are discouraged from reporting the facts to the authorities out of fear they will not be believed. They consider going forward to the police a useless means of seeking justice. Worse, it could even worsen the situation by putting them in danger of retaliation, shame and the loss of reputation within their communities.
In cases of rape or abuse, the most common solution is to settle in court or employ the traditional code of conduct taught to girls in school that teaches them to remain silence in view of their husbands’ abuse. “Women in many cases are compensated with money. They are asked to keep quiet or leave home when their husband is angry”, says Dany. This code was removed from school curriculums in 2007 but its influence continues to be taught outside the classroom. 96.2% of Cambodian men and 98.5% of its women still think a woman should obey her husband.
Changing attitudes, whether online or in schools, is one of the basic tasks needed to break the silence imposed by Cambodian society on its women and girls.
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