Campaign Against Gender Violence Launched

The Ministry of Women’s Affairs, NGOs and several U.N. agencies Monday launched the 13th annual campaign against gender-based violence, which this year is focused on rape, organizers said Monday.

Sixteen Days of Activism Against Gender Violence is an international campaign celebrated in countries around the globe every year, and this year in Cambodia, 33 development agencies, including several U.N. organizations, will hold discussions on TV and radio, at universities as well as door-to-door campaigns in Prey Veng, Kompong Chhnang, Battambang, Banteay Meanchey and Pursat provinces, organizers said.

“Most people know that violence against women is wrong and the number of reports on [rapes and domestic violence] cases is increasing. It seems that people have started to discuss and know that they don’t have to hide it anymore,” said Ros Sopheap, executive director of the Gender and Development for Cambodia organization—which is taking part in the campaign.

“Ten years ago, people [did] not want to tell others [about gender violence] and [they kept] it silent because they loose face but now, they say that this happened and it is wrong and they report to the police,” she said.

According to local rights group Adhoc, two thirds of the nearly 200 rape cases reported to the organization so far this year were children, Ms. Sopheap said, adding that there is no analysis as to why victims appear to be getting younger.

“Perpetrators think it’s easy [to rape children], they use their power and intimidate them,” she said, adding that through the door-to-door campaign, activists would also be able to educate children about sexual abuse.

A recent report by the U.N., which found that 1 in every 5 Cambodian man admitted to having raped a woman at some time in the past, would also be the center of several public and on air discussions, she said.

Jenna Holiday, an adviser with U.N. Women, said that nationwide figures were needed to better understand the prevalence of rape, particularly after the report, which focused on men’s attitudes to the crime.

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