The Situation of Women in Cambodia Is Improving – Monday, 29.3.2010

Posted on 30 March 2010. Filed under: Week 658 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 658

“Phnom Penh: The US Ambassador to Cambodia said that the situation of women in Cambodia is improving.

“The US Ambassador to Cambodia, Mrs. Carol Rodley, said so at the US Embassy during an event at the occasion of the International Women of Courage Award on 26 March 2010, ‘The situation of women in Cambodia is improving and there is hope that the future will be good for women.’

Note:

“Washington, 10 March 2010. First lady Michelle Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton honored women human rights activists from around the world with this year’s Women of Courage awards at a special ceremony 10 March 2010 at the State Department

“The awardees this year are Shukria Asil of Afghanistan, Colonel Shafiqa Quraishi of Afghanistan, Androula Henriques of Cyprus, Sonia Pierre of the Dominican Republic, Shadi Sadr of Iran, Ann Njogu of Kenya, Dr. Lee Ae-Ran of South Korea, Jansila Majeed of Sri Lanka, Sister Marie Claude Naddaf of Syria and Jestina Mukoko of Zimbabwe.”

Ambassador Rodley has been the recipient of the Department’s Senior Performance Award, the State Department’s Human Rights and Democracy Award, the American Foreign Service Association’s Christian Herter Award for creative dissent, the James Clement Dunn Award for leadership, the Director of Central Intelligence Exceptional Humint Collector Award and an Intelligence Community Seal Medallion. Her foreign languages are Khmer, German, Spanish, Urdu, and Hindi.”

“Regarding the Prime Minister’s order to crack down on some entertainment night clubs, in an attempt to reduce rape and human trafficking, she said, ‘Recently, Cambodia has strengthened law enforcement against human trafficking, against drug smuggling, and against other places prone to crimes in Phnom Penh.’ She added that according to recent law enforcements activities, human trafficking has been found at places suspected to be brothels. When the authorities took legal action, victimized women who were sex workers were, in general, not arrested. In many cases, all victims were sent to rehabilitation centers.

“Ms. Carol Rodley stressed, ‘The important thing is to educate women, so they can change themselves, so that they can get proper jobs.’

“Relating to this case, the Minister of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi, said, ‘The situation of women in Cambodia in health, in their economic possibilities, and in the legal sector has improved.’ She added that the government has created many laws to protect women and their families.

“She went on to say that the Ministry of Women’s Affairs fully supports the policy of Prime Minister Samdech Hun Sen, who had ordered the authorities in all provinces and in the capital city to shut down places operating illegal activities, as this is a problem that affects our Cambodian youth. Violence in society results from ethically problematic and unwelcome activities which happened and have a bad impact on society.

“Ms. Ing Kantha Phavi continued to say that the government had created a National Committee Against Trafficking in Women and Children. This committee focuses on four major fields in order to assist victims who suffer from trafficking and from violence against women: 1. Interception, 2. Conviction, 3. Protection, and 4. Rehabilitation and Integration.

“Also, the government has cooperated with development partners and civil society organizations and has achieved good results. The number of arrested perpetrators increased because of timely and effective interventions from police, which led to more convictions of perpetrators by the courts. The Ministries of Women’s Affairs, of Education, of Information, of Culture and other ministries have joined to publish information about human trafficking, so that citizens at the community level can better submit crime reports in time.” Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #446, 29.3.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Monday, 29 March 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #446, 29.3.2010

  • The Situation of Women in Cambodia Is Improving
  • The First Time a Cambodian Woman Had Been Nominated for the Women of Courage Award by the US Embassy [Ms. Chen Reaksmey, an advisor on information about AIDS, health, and drugs of the Kosang [“to build up”] Organization, who had been addicting to drugs for eight years, was nominated for her hard work to reduce the spread of HIV, drugs, and human trafficking in Cambodia]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2213, 28-29.3.2010

  • The Meanchey District Authorities Removed Light Black Plastic Foils from the Windows of 177 Cars within Two Hours [in response to a reminder by the Prime Minister – Phnom Penh]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #638, 28-29.3.2010

  • Based on [Prime Minister] Hun Sen’s Speech: Are Oknhas Who Own and Operate Wood Storehouses in Siem Reap Considered as Betraying the Nation?

Koh Santepheap, Vol.43, #6920, 29.3.2010

  • A One-Star General Got Angry with the Driver of Remorque-Moto Loaded with Ice, as the Driver Did Not Turn on the Turning Light, and He Shot and Injured the Driver with One Bullet [the general and his bodyguard were arrested – Kompong Speu]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3844, 29.3.2010

  • It Is Clearly Criticized that Political Influence Makes the National Assembly of Cambodia Weak and Lose its Independence [according to a report for 2009 and 2010 of the Cambodia Development Resource Institute – Cambodia’s Leading Independent Development Policy Research Institute – presented to the public last week: parliamentarians did not have the possibility to implement their roles independently and effectively, as they have to face the power of the government and of their party, though they know their actual roles well]

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #140, 29.3.2010

  • Thousands of Cubic Meters of Wood Were Seized in the Campaign to Intercept Forestry Crimes [the opposition party welcomes this interception going on for over a week, but questions why the government does not take legal action against officials who were involved in those crimes – and just confiscates their wood]
  • The Pheapimex Company of [Ms. Cheung Sopheap and her husband, Senator Lao Meng Khin] Received the Right to Own Two Places and Buildings [the Renakse Hotel in front of the Royal Palace, and now in addition the adjacent plot with the building of the National Committee for Organizing National and International Festivals – Phnom Penh]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5162, 28-29.3.2010

  • The Thai Red Shirt Groups [supporters of ousted and fugitive prime minister Thaksin Shinawatra] Forced the Military to Return to Their Barracks and Some Burned Copies of the Constitution [the situation is getting worse]
  • The Number of People Having Symptoms which Look Like Cholera in Kratie Increased to 134; Six People Died [according to officials of the Health Department of Kratie]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1889, 29.3.2010

  • Why Do the Authorities Not Arrest the Owner of the Tiger Beer Company like They Arrested Yeay Mab for Illegal Wood Trading?

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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The First Meeting about the Implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Stop Violence against Women – Thursday, 18.2.2010

Posted on 19 February 2010. Filed under: Week 652 | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 652

“Phnom Penh: The Open Institute, in collaboration with the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, held the first consultative meeting on the topic ‘Participating in the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women, and the Importance of Using Information and Communication Technology (ICT) to Combat Violence against Women.’

“Opening the meeting in the morning of 17 February 2010, a Secretary of State of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Ms. Sy Define, said that the meeting was the first one held by a government institution with a civil society organizations on this issue, and it was organized after the government had published the ‘National Action Plan about the Prevention of Violence against Women’ last year. She stressed that even without reference to specific figures, rape and violence against women appear in new ways, and all forms appear more frequently and more cruelly. This is a concern for the government as well as for non-government organizations.

“She added that a major challenge for the prevention of violence against women, which needs to be addressed immediately, is the victims’ fear and shame. She emphasized that the victims often try to hide what happened, and even as there are more rapes happening, there is also the increased tendency to hide them. This is because women feel ashamed and they are afraid of being treated with contempt by the society, and also the knowledge of citizens in many communities is limited, including the knowledge about the legal procedures to appeal to the courts which require the victims, mostly the poor, to pay money.

“Based on the above issues, Ms. Sy Define called for more publications of laws about rights and other measures that are important for preventing and reducing violence against women, where Information and Communication Technology (ICT) plays an important role.

“ICT provides a modern and fast way of communication using computers or mobile phones; it can reach us wherever we are, as far as the communications network extends. It provides easy and quick access to a collection of all kinds of information.

“Regarding this issue, the Executive Director of the Open Institute, Ms. Chim Manavy, said that this meeting is really important for reflecting about violence against women and the intersection between this problem and Information and Communication Technology. In many countries around the world, women’s networks and organizations use the Internet and communicate, using these technologies, to share their experiences and to gather resources and support for their activities, and organize for the creation of global strategic actions. She said that in Cambodia, however, most women have not developed the habit and the ability to use the Internet and to communicate through it to support their activities like it happens in other countries.

“She added, ‘Recently, there is more recognition of the intersection between violence against women and the instruments for electronic communication [with computers and mobile phones]. Violence against women and ICT have an impact on establishing fundamental freedoms and human rights.’

“But Ms. Manavy raised also other examples, saying, ‘While mobile phones and websites can benefit women who suffer violence, seeking information and assistance, some wicked persons use the same technology for exploitation, sending images violating women’s rights, which are human rights.’

“Relating to the negative use of ICT, Ms. Sy Define called on women to be aware of this problem and to join together to control it and to use ICT to combat such wrongdoings.

“She emphasized that the government alone cannot achieve the Millennium Development Goals for 2010, which state [as Goal 3] ‘Promote gender equality and empower women,’ without cooperation in many fields with non-government organizations and development partners to promote the capacity, knowledge, strength, and courage of women.

“She also asked all women’s and other institutions to join to encourage the use of ICT to help prevent violence against women as well as domestic violence, following the National Action Plan about the Prevention of Violence against Women.

“During the meeting held at the Hotel Cambodiana, participants from more than 40 institutions working on women and rights presented their results from separate observations about violence against women and domestic violence, and discussed to share their experiences, knowledge, lessons learned, other strategies, and the use of ICT to prevent violence against women and domestic violence.

“In the three hours meeting, participants offered recommendations and sought to identify key priorities for cooperation between civil society organizations and government institutions to develop joint strategies to effectively prevent violence against women, to encourage gender equality, and to empower women. Ten other organizations cooperated and attended the meeting: Cambodian Women for Peace and Development, the Cambodian Defenders’ Project, the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (NGO-CEDAW), the Project Against Domestic Violence, Legal Aid of Cambodia, the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center, the Women’s Media Center, Positive Change for Cambodia, Pharmaciens Sans Frontières, and the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO).” Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5129, 18.2.2010

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 18 February 2010

Deum Ampil, Vol.4, #413, 18.2.2010

  • Samdech Hun Sen: Cambodia Never Plants New Mines along the Border [he said so in response to some accusations, especially by Thailand]
  • The Phnom Penh Municipality Plans to Create Senior Citizens Associations Soon in the Eight Districts
  • Seventy One Journalists Were Killed in 2009 Worldwide [including 33 in the Philippines; according to the Committee to Protect Journalists]

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.9, #2180, 18.2.2010

  • More Than 100 Cleaners at the Angkor Resort [of the Apsara Authority] Protested over the Late Payment of Their Salaries [Siem Reap]
  • The Khmer Rouge Tribunal Signed an Agreement to Create a Digital Tribunal [with the Stanford University and the Berkeley War Crimes Study Center of the University of California]
  • Report: America and Pakistan Arrested the Head of the [military wing of the] Taliban

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.4, #605, 18.2.2010

  • A Casino of Oknha Ket Theang Worth US$100 Million Will Open Next Week [in Bavet, Svay Rieng, at the border to Vietnam – he said that his casino can offer jobs to about 6,000 Khmer citizens]

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.17, #3811, 18.2.2010

  • Avoiding to Respond to Sam Rainsy Party Parliamentarians’ Questions [over border issues] Shows the Irresponsibility of the Government

Phnom Penh Post [Khmer Edition], Vol.1, #114, 18.2.2010

  • Thirty One People Died in Traffic Accidents within the Three Days of the Chinese New Year [in Cambodia]

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.18, #5129, 18.2.2010

  • The First Meeting about the Implementation of the National Strategic Plan to Stop Violence against Women
  • The Ministry of Public Works and Transport and the Ministry of Education Plan to Create a Navigation School to Improve Waterway Traffic Safety [this navigation school is for youth of the next generation to get training, based on proper educational standards to obtain a license. Before, the provision of shipping licenses depended on the testing and questioning previous experience of piloting ships or motor boats, but there was no training offered. Two or three years ago the Phnom Penh port started training for its personnel, but it was not open for the public]
  • The Transport of Luxury Wood in Thala Barivat District Continues without Any Disturbance [by the authorities – Stung Treng]

Sereypheap Thmey, Vol.18, #1876, 18.2.2010

  • [A Sam Rainsy parliamentarian] Mr. Son Chhay Asked [the Minister of Interior] Mr. Sar Kheng to Check Road Traffic Police Activities that Establish Illegal Check Points to Extort Money from Citizens [he raised a case near the Chroy Changva bridge where police stop cars or trucks to make them pay money unofficially which they keep for themselves or share some with their next higher level officials]

Have a look at the last editorial – you can access it directly from the main page of the Mirror.
And please recommend The Mirror also to your colleagues and friends.

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Valentin’s Day 2010 – Sunday, 14.2.2010

Posted on 15 February 2010. Filed under: *Editorial*, Week 651 | Tags: , , , , , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 14, No. 651

Year after year, it is interesting to observe that Valentine’s Day gets more public attention and controversy, especially in a number of Asian countries. A Cambodian blogger, Ms. Chak Sopheak, collected a number of different voices under the title Cambodia: Valentine’s Day Sparks Controversy. She refers also to a public appeal of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, which “initiated five-minute spots educating the teenagers about the ‘meaning of the Valentine’s day’ in order that the young will be encouraged to expresses their love to family first, followed by teachers and then friends.”

Of course everybody is free to try to give their own interpretation of Valentine’s Day. But to say that it is about “to expresses their love to family first, followed by teachers and then friends” has no basis in the history of this celebration. Valentine’s Day – historically – celebrates the love between man and women, against the rules of the the society represented by the state. To declare Valentine’s Day not to be about lovers, man and women, but about some wider family and friends relations, is just another attempt of the nature against which the original Valentine is said to have fought.

There are hardly any explanations of Valentine’s day which clearly say: The original message is that Valentine was against the regulations of the authorities to prevent men and women to commit themselves to each other, against the law.

It is about this love. This is the message.

But as it is with old traditions, it is not always possible to verify them in detail. A holiday to remember a person of this name was established already in the year 496, more than 1500 years ago. But his story became more widely known only after the technology to print books by using movable individual letters – not only to copy books in handwriting – was invented around the year 1450 in Germany, and the Readings of the Saints (a Latin book Legenda Sanctorum) was reprinted often. I contained also the story of Valentine.

According to this, Valentine was a Christian monk who defended his belief even when he was made to appear before the emperor Marcus Aurelius Claudius who ruled only briefly in the years 268 to 270), but he was imprisoned as he was not prepared to compromise his positions, and was arrested and later executed.

Later reports say that he did not agree with the government’s rule to restrict solders to get married. The government thought that their romantic relationships would make them not good members of society as assigned by the government to be soldiers. But Valentine secretly organized their marriages, against this rule and breaking the law, as he considered it a basic right not to remain single. A case of an early human rights advocate.

The tradition says that while he was already in prison, he befriended the daughter of the prison guard, and on the day before his execution he is said to have written to her a note “From your Valentine.”

To reflect about Valentine’s Day is to reflect about this story. It is not “to be nice to everybody” but it is about a person who defended the right of men and women to be together, even defending and maintaining his position to the end of losing his life for not complying with the law, but supporting love.

It is obviously a complete misuse of the tradition of Valentine when this day is now used by boys to persuade and force their girlfriends to have sex as if this would be the meaning of Valentine’s Day, or even to rape one woman by a group of men. But it is also a misuse to this tradition to use it and to say it is a day of general friendship and love with family first, then teachers, and friends.

To do so is to close one’s eyes from the fact that – quite obviously in many countries – young people are not prepared to accept traditional restrictions imposed on their relations between men and women. And that such changes are not just the result of westernization we tried to show at last year’s Valentine Day with pictures from the People’s Republic of China and from North Korea – two countries really not know to be inclined to “Western” ideologies.

In a different cultural context – to give another example – also the society in Pakistan is without broad orientation in this context:

“Our homeland the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is also deeply influenced by events like Valentine’s Day which were unknown in the sub continent before but now after so many years of celebrating it, it seems like it has merged with our culture.

“In Pakistan the day is celebrated equally to many different countries of the world our youth celebrates it with more intensity and passion than our Independence Day, or any of our historic days which means so much for the whole Nation but our youth and our teenagers seems to have been so captivated by the Western ways and laws that they actually give more preference to celebrating these holidays then our own. Obviously it’s not just the youth which is to be blamed, but our society has created an image which is identical to the West.

“Every year in Pakistan people are getting more enthusiastic, energetic and more passionate to celebrate Valentine’s Day. If we talk about the outcome of celebrating this day we will get to know that there are two possible outcomes of this day, one is enjoyed by the participants while the other is enjoyed by the businesses and owner of different businesses.”

So what?

In spite of all the confusions which become obvious at this day, it is a challenge to face the question seriously: How are we, in our different societies, going to find solutions which the events and feelings and activities of each Valentine’s Day pose about the relations between women and men in our times and societies. Just to appeal to the traditions does not lead to solutions accepted by many people.

In Cambodia, there is the Chbab Srey, a traditional code of conduct for Cambodian women. The response I often receive: I am very much in favor of keeping our Khmer traditions, but I do not accept that the Chbab Srey says: “Don’t speak in a way as if you consider him as equal… My dear, no matter what your husband did wrong, I tell you: to be patient, don’t say anything without the husband being present.” Such partial, selective acceptance will hardly prevent that for many people Valentine’s Day may result in negative memories, because an open discourse on where to find new ways and new relationships is hardly happening.

Even so, Valentine’s Day provides every year a new impulse to think ahead. To boldly think, and to find way to live what is found to be right. Like Valentine, who was rather prepared to face death than to give up what he was sure was right.

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