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Physical, Sexual or Psychological Violence of Women or Girl in Cambodia

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Violence against women and girls is globally recognized as a form of gender based discrimination deeply rooted in values of unequal power relations between males and females

The United Nations Declaration on the Elimination of Violence Against Women is protective of females of all ages. It defines violence against women as “any act of gender-based violence that results in, or is likely to result in, physical, sexual or mental harm or suffering to women, including threats of such acts, coercion or arbitrary deprivation of liberty, whether occurring in public or in private life.

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Besides, education can reduce the level of problem from getting worse. It is the family which is principally responsible for building the character of individuals, and it is in functioning families that feelings of self-worth, respect for others and conflict resolution skills are developed. It is thus vital that support is given to families to enable them to nurture these qualities which, if not developed in the early, formative years, are very hard to instill later. Both education at school and home are essentially important for our community. Besides, education at school or outside is also important to raise the awareness of domestic violence. The education should promote morality and values of women’s role in society as well as promote the culture of peace and love in our society to eliminate all kinds of violence. More importantly, in order to completely eliminate this matter, Cambodia should fully adopt democracy peace theory. Democracy calls for culture of tolerance, cooperation, negotiation, and non-conflict resolution, and it also promotes human rights and prioritizes people. Thus, Cambodian citizens can fully be injected with these ideas under the concepts of this theory which seeks individual to understand and respect each other; Cambodia will be a domestic-violence free country. When government, private actors, and civilians together implement these effective actions, someday domestic violence will successfully be eliminated. Then Cambodia’s development will be pushed forward rapidly. As a result, when such problem is disappeared, development, prosperity, and harmony will be reached profoundly

In my opinion, if Cambodia becomes a fully democratic country, all kinds of violence and conflicts will be fade away like smoke into the air while every single citizen may enjoy and live happily with harmony and prosperity.

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Almost one in four women in Cambodia is a victim of physical, emotional or sexual violence. This article brings together two seldom connected fields: Theory of Change (ToC) and cultural responsiveness in international development. It applies these approaches to a priority in global health, which is to prevent violence against women (VAW) and, drawing on my research on the epigenesis of VAW in Cambodia, develops an argument on the need for interventions to work with tradition and culture rather than only highlight it in problematic terms. The research draws on an ethnographic study carried out in Cambodia with 102 perpetrators and survivors of emotional, physical and sexual VAW and 228 key informants from the Buddhist and healing sectors. The eight ‘cultural attractors’ identified in the author’s prior research highlight the cultural barriers to acceptance of the current Theory of Change. ToC for VAW prevention in Cambodia seems to assume that local culture promotes VAW and that men and women must be educated to eradicate the traditional gender norms. There is a need for interventions to work with tradition and culture rather than only highlight it in problematic terms. The cultural epigenesis of VAW in Cambodia is an insight which can be used to build culturally responsive interventions and strengthen the primary prevention of VAW

Turning to VAW, global efforts to prevent it have been fuelled by a contemporary ToC, developed in the west and applied globally. What is appealing about ToC is that, with an open learning approach, it is supposed to make these assumptions explicit, and to activate and support critical thinking throughout the program so that dynamic changes can be made in response to changes in contexts (Vogel 2012). Seldom, however, do agencies pause to consider whether the assumptions are appropriate in culturally diverse settings. This is probably because what people in a group believe to be true about the genesis of VAW can be summarised as ‘culture A engages in harmful traditional practices’ or ‘culture B champions male hegemony in which men can abuse women’ or ‘culture C teaches women that they have next-to-no human rights’ and ‘in a rapidly changing social-economic structure, men in culture D cannot cope with the increasing independence of women and therefore seek to control them through violence’. Armed with these sorts of assumptions, and with little debate, policy makers and program developers design initiatives to tackle the problem. The second seat at the table is cultural responsiveness in international development and evaluation. Chouinard is scathing in her criticism of international development evaluation for generally omitting culture ‘despite the recognition that evaluation is an intensely cultural practice’ (Chouinard 2016:237).

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To conclude, meanwhile, Bunn Rachana, who works with the nongovernmental organization ActionAid, has designed the Safe Agent 008 app to improve safety in public places, with a preset message and GPS location to contact relatives and friends or file anonymous reports if harassed. According to research by The Asia Foundation, 94 percent of Cambodians now own a mobile phone, including 39 percent with a smartphone. The use of mobile phones is more prevalent among men (55.7 percent) than among women (46.9 percent)

Of course, technological solutions alone will not solve the issue of domestic violence. Still, they do represent a small first step towards making Cambodian cities and homes safer for women.

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Vogel, I. 2012 Review of the Use of ‘Theory of Change’ in International Development: Review Report. Report Commissioned by the UK Department for International Development. London: UK Department of International Development.

Chouinard J.A. Introduction: Decolonizing International Development Evaluation. Canadian Journal of Program Evaluation. 2016;30:237–247. doi:

Chowdhury E.H. Rethinking Patriarchy, Culture and Masculinity: Transnational Narratives of Gender Violence and Human Rights Advocacy. Journal of International Women’s Studies. 2014;12:79–100.

Ezard N. It’s Not Just the Alcohol: Gender, Alcohol Use, and Intimate Partner Violence in Mae La Refugee Camp, Thailand, 2009. Substance Use and Misuse. 2014

Farley M., Freed W., Phal K.S., Golding J. A Thorn in the Heart: Cambodian Men Who Buy Sex. Focus on Men Who Buy Sex: Discourage Men’s Demand for Prostitution, Stop Sex Trafficking. Phnom Penh: Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center and Prostitution Research & Education; 2012.

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