The Council of Ministers Friday approved Cambodia’s first-ever legislation dealing with domestic abuse, officials said.
The draft law on the “Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of the Victims” was submitted to ministers by the Ministry of Women’s and Veterans’ Affairs and is likely to go before the National Assembly and Senate “soon,” Council of Ministers spokesman Khieu Thavika said.
“This is very major because it addresses a really worrisome situation at the moment,” Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua said, adding that there has been an increase in violent crimes against women and children—particularly rape, incest and violence in the home.
Mu Sochua said domestic abuse has historically been viewed as a private affair, but in reality it is a criminal offense that needs to be dealt with legally.
“We have to change social behavior and attitudes that rely on violence as a means to deal with conflict and social values that put in jeopardy the human rights of women and children,” she said in an earlier statement.
She attributed the violence to a “deterioration” of society, saying, “We have gone through 30 years of destruction. You just don’t turn something like that around without a major investment.”
Mu Sochua said the draft law was written with funding from the UN Development Program.
(Additional reporting by Nhem Chea Bunly)