Debate Over Domestic Violence Law Revived

After more than two years of in­action on the matter, the National Assembly is slated to revive today the long-anticipated debate on a pro­posed domestic violence law.

Lawmakers and activists welcomed the reopening of debate on the topic, saying that the law, if passed, would help to stop what they called a deterioration of Cam­bodian society.

Debate on a domestic violence draft law was taken up on the As­sembly floor in 2003, but it eventually stalled due to criticism from parliamentarians who said the bill as written was a critical blow against Khmer society and tradition.

Funcinpec lawmaker Monh Sa­phan said Friday that the current draft law contains major flaws which he cannot accept if they re­main part of the bill, and called it “a real critical blow against Kh­mer society and tradition.”

For instance, he said that the draft’s definition of a Khmer family, which he says is traditionally comprised of parents and their children, includes relatives and maids who live in a family’s home.

He also criticized the draft law for giving the courts too much au­thor­ity solving disputes within families.

And he added that if a domestic dispute is brought to court, the hus­band could be imprisoned, which would divide the family.

Opposition lawmaker Son Ch­hay called Monh Saphan’s ob­jec­tions “nonsense.”

He said he is strongly backing the bill as written because the pas­­sage of the domestic violence law is an urgent priority that will help cure “Khmer societal ills.”

“Enough is enough,” said Oung Chanthol, executive director of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Cen­ter. “Our parliamentarians have to approve this domestic violence law at this time if they have a real will to serve the people.”

Oung Chanthol said she is optimistic that the law will pass.


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