Reports of Domestic Violence Increased This Year, Activists Say

Two local rights groups an­noun­c­ed recently that incidents of do­me­stic violence reported to their offices during the first six months of 2007 were up more than 15 percent com­pared to the same period last year.

Adhoc received reports on 312 cases, an 18 percent jump, while Lica­dho received 112 reports for a 17 percent jump.

Licadho president Kek Galabru attributed the jump to increased reporting—especially by neighbors—because of better public awareness since the 2005 passage of the Law on the Preven­tion of Domestic Violence.

But despite the law, reporting do­me­stic abuse to the police and courts typically doesn’t lead to legal ac­tion, said Lim Mony, head of Ad­hoc’s women’s program

Of the 312 cases reported to Adhoc, police have made only 43 arrests, Lim Mony said, adding that trials have not begun for any of those arrested.

“Since the domestic violence law was passed, legal action has been taken on perpetrators so rarely,” Lim Mony said. She claimed that the low number of arrests was due to local authorities being unaware of the law, which empowers police to intervene in domestic disputes to protect victims, though abusers are still charged with the less specific crime of causing injury.

Keo Thea, deputy bureau police chief of anti-human trafficking in Phnom Penh, said police officers are aware of the law. “They are train­ed to enforce the domestic violence law effectively,” he said.

Phnom Penh Municipal Court Judge Ke Sakhorn said he has hand­­ed down jail sentences this year to men charged with injuring their wives, but he declined to give the number of convictions. He add­ed that he has seen fewer do­me­stic vio­len­ce cases since the law was pas­­sed.

Chou Bun Eng, director-general of social development at the Min­istry of Women’s Affairs, said her ministry has organized dis­cussions on the domestic violence law with po­lice, commune council­ors and villagers. She ack­now­ledged, however, that de­spite her ministry’s efforts there has not been a decrease in domestic violence.

(Additional reporting by Jeremy Gantz)


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