Urgent Need for System to Track Violence, New Draft Report Says

Cambodia urgently needs a national system to track violence against women, including rape, trafficking and domestic abuse, according to a draft report commissioned last year by the Women’s Affairs Ministry and German development agency GIZ.

The quality and collection of data varied greatly between ministries, government institutions and NGOs, it found.

“[A] national monitoring system of measuring violence against women is urgently needed,” it said, noting that cases were not measured systematically nationwide.

Sy Define, secretary of state at the Women’s Affairs Ministry, said that the ministry, supported by GIZ, was starting to develop a national joint database.

“We all acknowledge there are rapes and violence but if we ask the amount, we are not clear,” Ms Define said. “We need to have national data for now. If we have such data, we can measure the decrease and increase of cases.”

The ministry has started to put together a steering committee and select NGO members in order to develop the system, she added.

Measuring violence is complicated and involves many actors, such as the police, the courts and ministries for health, social affairs and justice, said Marion Bihler, a consultant who authored the report.

“Every­body gets [to see] just part of the problem,” she said.

Ms Bihler said that data pointed to decreasing domestic violence, but there were no surveys on rape and no trends could be identified.   “Maybe more women are daring to speak out, but maybe there was an actual increase,” Ms Bihler said, referring to reports of rape received by NGOs, which are frequently far higher than the Interior Ministry’s official tally.

Ros Sopheap, executive director of NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia, welcomed the proposed system to prevent discrepancies in data. “It’s really hard because NGOs say the situation is like this and the government to defend [itself] says that it’s like that,” Ms Sopheap said, noting that the impact of work was difficult to measure.

(Additional reporting by Hul Reaksmey)


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