Startled by an increase in violence committed against women, NGO Forum on Cambodia met Monday with Deputy Prime Minister Sar Kheng to discuss the government’s efforts to curb, in particular, domestic violence.
The meeting was the first time government officials have discussed rising violence against women with NGO Forum representatives.
Before the meeting, NGO Forum prepared a letter to Prime Minister Hun Sen detailing 13 recent murders of women in Cambodia, including that of the actress Piseth Peaklica. In the letter, NGO Forum asked Hun Sen to strengthen Cambodia’s laws and begin aggressively prosecuting those who murder women.
“[Sar Kheng] assured us he has an understanding of the issues,” said Russell Peterson, NGO Forum representative.
Although the Piseth Peaklica case—perhaps the most widely known murder of a woman in recent history—was discussed briefly, Peterson said it was only brought up in the larger context of crimes that often go unpunished in Cambodia.
“This is a big issue in Cambodia. [Suspects] are often not prosecuted for these crimes,” said Youk Kalyann, program coordinator for the Project Against Domestic Violence.
No one from Sar Kheng’s office could be reached Monday for comment. Peterson said the deputy prime minister promised to ask the country’s police forces to report on violent acts, including rape and domestic violence.
Sar Kheng also said he questioned top police officials about their response to domestic violence, Peterson said.
According to NGO Forum representatives, violence against women has increased in the last several years. Lim Mony, head of the Women’s Section for the local rights group Adhoc, said her office handles about 130 cases of violence against women each month.
Peterson said Monday’s meeting was only the first of a series, and that the NGO Forum would follow up periodically with the government to track any legislative or policy reform that may occur.