The Ministry of Women’s and Veteran’s Affairs organized a workshop Wednesday to gather comments from NGOs on the ministry’s latest draft law on domestic violence.
The ministry hopes to have a domestic-violence prevention law adopted by the end of the year. Minister Mu Sochua said problems with demestic violence, especially incidents of incest, have become more serious the last two years, making it imperative that the law enacted as soon as possible.
While the previous draft law issued in 1997 only mentioned battery and battery with injury, the draft completed last month spells out jail terms based on the severity of the victim’s injuries.
The new draft includes provisions for forcing a sexual act on a spouse, another member of the family and a minor. Jail terms range from six months to 20 years , in the case of a minor.
There is also a section on causing an abortion or coercing a woman into getting one, and a clause for forcing a pregnancy, which carries a jail term of up to six months.
But Sok Sam Oeun, executive director of the Cambodian Defenders Project, said the 30-article draft is often too vague to be effectively enforced.
For example, he said, the draft does not differentiate between bigamy and adultery or say what to do if a woman who has her husband arrested for domestic violence changes her mind once he is in custody.
“Sometimes, it’s very hard for the police to understand laws,” Sok Sam Oeun said.
The draft includes an education program for the general population and a training program for law enforcement officers, healthcare workers, attorneys and judges, Mu Sochua said.