Experts Back Liquor Law to Help Prevent Spousal Abuse

A draft law proposing tighter controls on the sale and consumption of alcohol—the first of its kind in Cambodia—is being advanced by health experts as a way to reduce and prevent domestic violence.

Mom Kong, executive director of the Cambodia Movement for Health, told senior government officials and NGOs during a meeting on Thursday that passing the draft law on alcohol was critical to addressing widespread gender-based violence.

The law “is very important because you can save lives and prevent children from taking up drinking and becoming addicted to alcohol,” Mr. Kong said after the meeting.

Drafted by the Health Ministry, the legislation was reviewed by an inter-ministerial committee in July last year before being sent to the Council of Ministers, where its progress has stalled. In a bid to reduce consumption, it would impose taxes, set a minimum drinking age of 21, create penalties for retailers who sell liquor to underage consumers and ban advertising.

Moderating alcohol consumption by increasing its price, restricting hours for purchase and treating alcohol disorders can reduce violence between spouses and partners, according to the World Health Organization.

“Research from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs clearly says the intensity and the frequency of violence increases with an increase in the consumption of alcohol,” said Mr. Kong, who has led the push for stricter liquor laws.

He said that the penalties outlined in the law would force Cambodia’s poorly regulated alcohol industry and retail market to take account for aggressive advertising campaigns.

Mean Sam An, chairwoman of the Senate committee for health and social affairs, said the legislation was designed to prosecute crimes in which alcohol was a factor, including domestic violence.

“The alcohol law has punishments for people who cause violence after drinking, but not all violence is caused by alcohol,” she said. “If this law was passed it would reduce domestic violence and violence against children.”

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