A draft law on domestic violence has moved closer to reality, with Prime Minister Hun Sen’s promise to Minister for Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua that work on the draft could begin as soon as January.
“Women’s groups have been working toward this for a long time, so this promise really gives us something to celebrate,” said Menh Navy, coordinator of the Gender and Development Network, a group of agencies working on gender issues.
Women’s groups drafted a domestic violence law in 1997, but it has not been reviewed by the Council of Ministers. And advocates for women note police and courts often refuse to press charges against abusive spouses.
The advocates say at least one in six women suffers from domestic violence, tending to be unusually severe, with half injured. One recent study says four in 10 children aged 10 to 12 have witnessed domestic violence, while nearly 9 percent have witnessed a rape.
A group of NGOs has launched a 16-day campaign to stop violence against women. The network is the first such group in Cambodia.
They are distributing white ribbons at markets and high schools around Phnom Penh. The ribbons represent a promise never to “commit or condone” violence against women.