A delay in the formation of a new government could prolong the National Assembly’s adoption of domestic violence legislation, officials from the Cambodian Committee of Women said on Wednesday.
The status of a draft domestic violence law, which was not implemented in the first and second terms of government, is now unclear as politicians are busy trying to work through a potential political deadlock, they said.
“We had wished the domestic violence law could have been passed in the second term of government,” said Kek Galabru, founder of the Licadho human rights group and Cambow member. “But, unluckily, it was delayed and will take more time unless we have a new government.”
The law had been held up in the Assembly as parliamentarians research and debate the details of the draft. Several lawmakers and women’s groups have criticized the law, saying the wording of the draft blames women for their abuse, while others have complained that the law is contrary to traditional Khmer customs.
But, Ly Sunlina, Licadho’s women’s rights coordinator, said the domestic violence law is an important step forward for women’s rights.
“We plan to lobby new parliamentarians to understand the importance of the domestic violence law because it gives benefits to both men and women,” Ly Sunlina said. She said that it would empower local authorities to intervene in domestic situations, and it would educate men and women against violence.
Ly Sunlina said Cambow is encouraging government officials to appoint a female minister as head of the Ministry of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs. She said a female minister would boost the chances of the law’s approval because women better understand the issues surrounding domestic violence.