Domestic Violence Law To Punish Acid Attacks

Under a new draft of the proposed law against domestic violence, acid attacks would be punishable by five to 10 years in pri­son, according to the draft’s text.

Currently no law specifically punishes acid attacks—the disfiguring acts of revenge that have be­come more common in recent years. They are simply considered assault.

But being attacked by acid has consequences far beyond those of an ordinary beating. Historic­al­ly, jealous wives have thrown acid in the face of her husband’s youn­g­er lovers, forever depriving the women of their beauty and chan­ces at marriage—but the crime has been committed by some men.

The long-delayed draft law on do­mestic violence would be Cam­bo­dia’s first, targeting a pattern of abuse that is common—even tacitly accepted—in Cambodia. More than 80 participants joined a forum on the proposed law on Tuesday, including ministry officials, lawmakers and NGO workers.

“This new draft is to protect …and offer justice to victims,” Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua said.

Proponents originally hoped the draft law would be passed by the National Assembly by Febru­ary 2001, but the measure has yet to make it onto the parliamentary agenda. Cambodian women, often trapped in arranged marriages and hemmed in by a society that strictly limits their role, have little re­­course when violence occurs within the family, noted Men Sam An, a CPP lawmaker and member of the National Assembly’s Com­mission on Health, Social and Wom­­en’s Affairs.

“Because of embarrassment and fear of defaming the family’s reputation, domestic violence is regarded as an internal conflict within the family. Intervention from outside is not welcome,” she said.

The draft law hopes to change that. It would give police the power and responsibility to intervene in abusive family situations and would allow victims to get restraining orders against abusers, among other provisions.


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