Saturday, 1.3.2008: Interview Between Ms. Chim Manavy, Director of the Open Institute, and Koh Santepheap

Posted on 2 March 2008. Filed under: Week 549 |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 549

Question 1:

“On 8 March 2008, what programs will the NGO Open Institute implement to celebrate the International Women’s Day?


“The topic for the Open Institute this year is ‘Women and Independence.’ We intend to widely promote awareness and knowledge about gender equity for Khmer women.

“To improve the situation of Cambodian women, we think that women’s independence is a crucial factor, apart from policies. Nothing new and different can be achieved if we do not begin from ourselves. We want all women to know that changes start from ourselves. We have to develop knowledge to increase self-confidence and to participate in the integration of social development.

“The Open Institute, which is a member of the Cambodian NGO Committee on the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women [CEDAW – full text of the Convention], will organize a series of activities to participate in the celebration of the International Women’s Day on 8 March 2008. We would like to welcome your participation by all means available, and we also invite you to visit the Women’s Web Portal, our women’s website on the Internet at:

“Our activities include the following:

  1. Network information resources and electronic mail: We use network information resources and a mailing list – – which is a forum for discussions via electronic mail – e-mail – about issues of women and gender, in order for everybody to share opinions and observations about the situation of women. To stimulate communication and discussion, we would like to invite you to share your ideas and opinions about our network information resources, using our mailing list.
  2. Publication of articles about the International Women’s Day: We will extract and publicize information on activities of institutes and organizations working on women’s affairs. We welcome and encourage you to also write articles and news to be posted on the web portal on women’s affairs; or if you can send them to us, we will publish them for you. [see also: ‘International Women’s Day 2007 in Cambodia’]
  3. Editorials: Our editorials will focus on issues about the International Women’s Day.
  4. Participation and cooperation with the Cambodian NGO Committee on CEDAW, governmental institutions [reference: ‘Cambodia – Combined initial, second and third reports‘ – look up ‘Cambodia’], and local non-governmental organizations [references: ‘Joint Coalition Shadow Report for the CEDAW Committee‘ – look-up ’34th CEDAW Session, Cambodia – 1’ and [‘Women’s anti-discrimination committee considers cambodia’s report‘] to celebrate the International Women’s Day.
  5. Monitoring of various media’s reporting news on the International Women’s Day. We will release a monitor report on examining and monitoring media news to the public after the International Women’s Day.

Question 2:

“Currently, a number of children and women have suffered from being raped, and there has been a steady increase in the cases of rape. What main reasons do you think have led to such rapes, especially fathers raping their own children, older siblings raping their younger siblings, for example?


“This is an important question. To fully respond to the question, I understand that we need to conduct another research [see also: ‘Rape and Indecent Assault in Cambodia Report‘ by LICADHO]. We see that the cases of raping are reported daily in almost every issue of the newspapers, and sometimes in one issue there are two or three different cases reported. We cannot accept such a serious situation. Newspapers reported the confessions of offenders about the reasons for causing them to do so. Most of them said that it was because of drinking alcohol or watching sex videos, others wanted to have sex only to satisfy their sexual desire. There are questions, but not all who drink alcohol or watch sex videos are rapists.

“There is a succession of increasing cases of rape. The majority of cases occur in rural areas, where most poor people receive little or no education at all. There are many factors that lead to an increase in the cases of rape. Social morality is on the decline, and poverty makes most people unable to receive appropriate education. Therefore, they do not know and understand the law. They do not value social morality. Moreover, people now have the tendency towards materialism rather than valuing morality in their life.

“People do not understand clearly about their rights and so they discriminate against victims. Therefore, we see also that sometimes victims are willing to accept money as compensations and agree not to lodge a legal complaint against offenders. Lax laws, a judicial system without independence, corruption of the judicial system and of the police, and a culture of impunity – these are the factors which do not lead to a decrease in offenses.

Question 3:

“Do you agree with the head of the government’s statement, claiming that good cooperation between the national police and judicial institutions is a crucial factor determining success or failure in bringing offenders to court?


“This is also a factor relating to punishing offenders. It can result in the reduction of the cases of rape. The problem is still linked to the strict implementation of the professional work by the national police and the judicial institutions, without any political influence or corruption. The national police must be a politically neutral force, without affiliation to political parties, and they have to carry out their role based on the principles for their work. The courts must be independent without political influence, they must be clean, be concerned first of all with the law, and seek justice for all citizens. Meanwhile, both institutions also have to strengthen their respective skills.

Question 4:

“Do you support the idea of imposing additional serious punishments upon criminals?


“Additional punishment are not a total solution. Most important is the question what should be done with offenders? Is it the full implementation of existing law, as indicated above? Even though the law states that offenders must be seriously punished, many are still at large, as the law is not effectively implemented. Meanwhile, we have to widely disseminate information about various laws to the people, so that they know that rape is a crime.

Question 5:

“What are your recommendations about the prevention of crimes of rape and the trafficking of children and women?


“To be able to do such work, we have to cooperate with the relevant ministries and institutions, and to provide education to the people. The aim of cooperation with civil society organizations is to make people aware that:

  1. Rape is a crime. Therefore, even though victims may be the children or siblings of an offender, offenders will be punished if they commit a crime.
    Rape can destroy a women’s future, because some women lose the opportunity to work. The problem will affect not only an individuals but also families and society. The loss of human resources will also affect social development.
  2. Offenders must be fined and imprisoned, and they should not be able to pay some money in order to avoid being punished by law.

“Meanwhile, the government must strengthen the capacity of law enforcers by providing those in charge with appropriate training in skills, procedures, and relevant laws.

“In relation with the prevention of trafficking of children and women, local authorities clearly know about some problems related to migration, and the ministries should strengthen the monitoring and supervision of Khmer workers who want to work in foreign countries. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Khmer embassies abroad must supervise and make it easy for Khmer laborers working abroad to contact their embassy if any problem arises. The Ministry of Tourism has to study about developments in the tourism sector, to make every effort to protect Khmer culture and Khmer people’s dignity, and to prohibit sex tourism and punish sex tourists. The trafficking of children and women must be prohibited, and offenders must be punished by law.

Question 6:

“The day of 8 March is International Women’s Day. What will your Open Institute talk about gender and other issues which Khmer women want to know? And in what way do you expect the participation from people in society?


“We want Khmer women to know that they have the same rights as men to receive education and information, and the freedom to express their ideas to participate in decision making, in allocating and in managing resources. Women have to try their best to build up their capacities, to have more active participation in their work. The society has to encourage and empower women to contribute to the steady reduction of the gender gap. At the International Women’s Day next year, we will talk about the talents of women, and the achievements that women have attained, rather than speaking about women’s issues in general.

“Khmer women need the right to participate in all economic, social, and political activities, and have the right to decide. Women’s rights are human rights. Article 1 in the Universal Declaration on Human Rights stipulates, “All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.” Article 3 provides that, “Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and security of person..”

“Women request to participate in building a society with the basic knowledge to reduce poverty.

“Meanwhile, we all have to jointly implement the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women to promote social morality, by valuing educated persons and not valuing materialism, because materialism causes people to commit wrong acts. We all have to participate in changing social attitudes without any discrimination against victims, and by eliminating the culture of impunity.

“Most importantly, the society has to further promote and strengthen the media sector, which is a reflection of society and works toward a society with a high-level of civilization.

Question 7:

“Currently, some women have positions as leaders in institutions, as members of some government authority bodies, or as politicians. In what way do you urge that women should have more participation?


“We see that, even though Samdech Akak Moha Senapadei Dekchor Hun Sen, the Prime Minister of the Kingdom of Cambodia, pays attention to promoting gender equity and suggesting that the main ideas of gender equity should be included in the government’s and into all the institutions’ policies, the results are still limited. There is still less participation from women in all these sectors.

“According to the Human Development Report of the United Nation Development Program [UNDP] on women’s participation in politics, even though Khmer women were eligible to vote and stand for election since 1955, the 2007 figure indicates that women have only 14.8 percent of seats in the Senate, and account for 7.1 percent of a total of ministerial positions. According to the same document, gender empowerment measures indicate that Cambodia ranks at position 83 among 93 countries, and has a Development Index of 0.377. With regard to the Human Development Index [HDI], Cambodia has an HDI of 0.598, and therefore ranks at position 131 amongst 177 countries. According to the eduction indicators for 2004 and 2005, there were 37 and 44 percent of female students who received high school education.

“The figures above are indicative of the interrelatedness of human resources development, and the promotion of women’s participation in Cambodia. The participation of a few women is shown in pictures of gender pyramids, which means that the roles of decision makers and managers are dominated by men, whereas most women have positions at medium and low levels. This affects the social development, as the women in the labor force of the country account for up to 74.4 percent of the total labor force. Therefore, we have to eliminate the glass ceiling which prevents women from participating in social development by encouraging more girls to go to school.

“We have to work more cooperatively with the government, with civil society organizations, and with the private sector to empower women by mainstreaming gender policies in all activities of work, by formulating policies and making other plans, and by providing quotas for women, so that they have more opportunities to participate actively in all these sectors.” Koh Santepheap, Vol. 441, #6284, 29.2.08

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Saturday, 1 March 2008

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1581, 1.3.2008

  • Sam Rainsy Calls for International Community Not to Recognize the 2008 Elections [if the elections are not accepted to be conducted free and fair]
  • 713 Members of Other Parties in Siem Reap Join the Cambodian People’s Party
  • Mountains and Trees of Thousands of Hectares in Samlot Destroyed [through illegal logging by powerful people – Battambang]
  • Prince Harry [of UK] Went for Military Service in Afghanistan

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6284, 29.2.2008

  • Interview between Ms. Chim Manavy, Director of Open Institute, and Koh Santepheap

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6285, 1-2.3.2008

  • Head of Royal Government: Cambodian Population Census Is Not Related to Elections or for Political Benefit
  • Krakor District Authorities Took Strong Action to Burn [six illegal] Sawmills [many saw chains, nearly 1,000 pieces of logs, and many cubic meters of timbers – 24-27 February – Pursat]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3501, 1-2.3.2008

  • Sam Rainsy: Economic Growth Exists Only for a Handful of Businesspeople and Powerful People
  • US Ambassador [Joseph A. Mussomeli] Wants Transparent Use of Money from Oil
  • Some Analysts Say China Helps Cambodia in the Way of Sipping Soup but Looking for the Pieces of Meat in It

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4529, 1.3.2008

  • Cambodia Will Establish Municipal, Provincial, and District Councils

Have a look at last week’s editorial

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4 Responses to “Saturday, 1.3.2008: Interview Between Ms. Chim Manavy, Director of the Open Institute, and Koh Santepheap”

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Ms. Chim Manavy said that, “Rape can destroy a women’s future, because some women lose the opportunity to work.”

When I came to Cambodia in 1990, many people thought that persons who were disabled were ruined for life, that they could not do productive work, and that their injury or illness was somehow their fault, perhaps as a result of something in a past life. Then wise people noted that the Prime Minister himself was disabled and that disabled people are in general as smart, kind, and hardworking as anyone else. Programs were established to train disabled people and help them find productive roles in society. Now disabled persons do many important jobs, competently and with dignity.

We should make the same change in the way society treats rape victims.

A rape is never the fault of a girl or woman. It is the fault of the perpetrator, who commits a crime.

A rape is also not the shame of a victim, or the loss of her honor, unless society treats it that way. Is someone shamed because their house is robbed?

If a society provides someone fewer opportunities because she has been raped, it is a shame and loss of honor for that society. And the way society treats rape victims can be changed, one person at a time.

I hope that everyone who reads this will make it their personal responsibility to treat all rape victims with respect, to insist that other people do the same, and to improve the life opportunities for at least one rape victim.


Ms. Chim Manavy prefers that the topic for the Open Institute this year should not be translated as ‘Women and Independence’ but as ‘Women and Self-Reliance.’

We add this correction, with our apologies.

Norbert Klein, Editor of The Mirror

[…] 3, 2008 VIA The Mirror: March 8 is International Women’s Day. Koh Santapheap talks to Chim Manavy, director of the Open Institute. We want Khmer women to know that they have the same rights as men […]

Dear Janet

Thank you very much for pointing this out ”… We should make the same change in the way society treats rape victims.
“… A rape is never the fault of a girl or woman. It is the fault of the perpetrator, who commits a crime…”
We want to make a change of people mindset toward the victim. My question is that why a girl’s virgin is so important to men and society? Why does a man can not accept a girl who was raped and therefore lost her virgin as his wife? Why a society can not accept the victim girl in stead of chasing her away by many silence mean. It is because of culture and traditional. Thing is difference in other modernized countries.

This is happen in many other Asian countries which result in serious consequence to the victims. A raped victim is afraid to go back to her village because she knows surely that her villagers will look at her as a detestable and abominable person. She will be discriminated if she looks for a job and also at her work place. That the rape victim may not find a husband because no man wants to married with a raped woman.

We want to let people know that, as you say, she is a victim “A rape is also not the shame of a victim, or the loss of her honor, unless society treats it that way …” Yes, I want people treat the victim equal as other human being, but more care because she is a victim. I want them to think what happen to them if this thing happens to their wife, daughter, and sister?

Thank you very much Norbert for highlight the explanation on the term used in the interview.

Together, we will make the further of Cambodian women a difference.

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