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Study Finds Violence Is an Ever-Present Threat for Many Cambodian Women


FILE - Rape victims who never received hearings for allegations pray in front of Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

FILE - Rape victims who never received hearings for allegations pray in front of Royal Palace, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

Shame and social stigma prevented most women from reporting the abuse, and it prevented many from even seeking medical attention.

Recent studies suggest a high number of Cambodian women live with violence and abuse, or the threat of it.

In a recent survey conducted by the Ministry of Planning, with support of UN Women, one out of five women said they had experienced either sexual or physical abuse.

Shame and social stigma prevented most women from reporting the abuse, and it prevented many from even seeking medical attention.

The Ministry of Planning study, released last month, was undertaken in 2014 and 2015 and surveyed 3,574 women, aged 15 to 64. Of those who reported being injured by their partners, 90 percent said they were hurt badly enough to need medical care. Only 47 percent actually sought care.

UN Women Country Representative Wenny Kusuma said in a statement that such abuse is another form of human rights violation. “The findings of the study confirm that violence against women constitutes one of the most pervasive human rights violations in Cambodia” she said. “This underscores the urgency of ensuring that a full range of services are available and that all victims are fully aware of their right to access these services.”

Dong-il Ahn, WHO’s country representative in Cambodia, called violence against women and girls “an important public health issue.” “It results in serious health consequences for survivors,” he said. “This study also confirms the link between gender inequality and the violence that pervades women’s lives. The health sector has an important role to play in responding to survivors’ needs.”

The new survey adds to a growing body of research that indicates very high levels of abuse for women. In 2013, a UN survey reported that one in five Cambodian men aged 18 to 49 admitted to having raped a woman.

Minister of Women’s Affairs Kantha Phavi says many factors lead to violence against women, including economics, war, alcohol, drugs and poor education.

“We see that at the moment the figure is still at a high level,” Kantha Phavi told reporters.

The new survey will bolster Cambodia’s efforts to prevent and respond to such violence and improve services for women, she said. “The result of the research is very important element for our work. When we know the result and we know the reason, we can hit the right target.”

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