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Domestic Violence on the Rise

Cambodian women are seeing an increase in "fierce" domestic violence, including murder, a rights activist said Monday.

"We are really concerned about this," said Lim Mony, who works for the group Adhoc, which is attached to the 33-NGO Cambodian Committee of Women, or Cambow.

"One in six Cambodian women are affected by domestic violence, including physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse," Cambow said in a statement, citing a report by the Project Against Domestic Violence.

The practice is perpetrated by beliefs in Cambodia that abuse is an internal affair of the family, making courts and police reluctant to interfere, Cambow said. Meanwhile, weak laws should be reviewed, including a new draft law on domestic violence, to ensure proper protection for victims.

The draft law currently has an article that requires police take a victim away in a domestic dispute, but this often leaves an abusive man home with children a wife might have protected.

Cambow has launched a media campaign that helps explain the problem via radio and television. The hope is to prevent another generation of abuse.

"What we have seen in our work is that if a husband attacks his wife, a child will do the same thing to his brother or sister when his parents are not home," Lim Mony said. "This is unacceptable."

The problem exists across the economic spectrum, although it can be problematic for poor women, who are sometimes hesitant to report abuse for risk of losing their breadwinner to jail time.

Part of the problem lies in the trauma many people experienced under the Khmer Rouge, Lim Mony said, as a guest of "Hello VOA."