The Ministry of Women’s Affairs and several NGOs and international donors signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday to support social work in Cambodia.
The signing followed an eight- day tour of Germany, during which a delegation from the ministry, NGOs and an adviser to Hun Sen studied social work institutions in that country.
“Social workers play an important part in initiating good cooperation and providing counseling,” said You Ay, the ministry’s secretary of state and the leader of the delegation to Germany.
On the invitation of the German government, they visited victims support programs, a shelter, counseling projects for men and women, a police academy, specialized prosecutors and a family court.
“Domestic violence, trafficking and rape are, unfortunately, serious problems in Cambodia,” You Ay said. “International experience shows that good social services and qualified counseling are key to improving the situation of victims.”
Among the lessons learned in Germany included in the memorandum is the need for coordination between law enforcement, health and social work personnel to help victims of domestic violence, You Ay said.
The memorandum also calls for a children’s court, as well as a law allowing police to intervene in domestic violence cases without receiving previous complaints she added.
Kek Galabru, president of the human rights group Licadho and a participant in the trip, admired the German policy of sending abusive husbands to houses for counseling and not jail, while women can go to safe houses.
Cambodia does not have such facilities for men or women, she added.
“We are waiting for the National Assembly to adopt the domestic violence draft law,” Kek Galabru said. “Then we can use our experience overseas to improve how the law is implemented.”