UNICEF Cambodia
Researcher & Writer Lisa Nicol Woods

SOUND THE ALARM: Reporting Violence Against Children In Cambodia


TABLE OF CONTENTS  ACRONYMS  INTRODUCTION  EXECUTIVE SUMMARY  METHODOLOGY  Focus group discussions  Key informant interviews  Literature review of existing research  CONTEXT OF VIOLENCE  Poverty  Gender  Gang rape  Gang and youth violence  Alcoholism  LEGAL FRAMEWORK  Legal Framework for Domestic Violence  Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims (2005)  Labour Law (1997)  Anti-trafficking policy framework  Policy on Alternative Care for Children (2006)  Prakas on Minimum Standards on Residential Care for Children  RESOURCES TO IMPLEMENT LEGAL FRAMEWORK  SOCIAL SERVICE SYSTEMS  KEY FINDINGS  RECOMMENDATIONS: SYSTEMS  SETTINGS  RECOMMENDATIONS: SETTINGS  CONCLUSION  RESOURCES 

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ACRONYMS ADHOC AHTJP BCC Cambodia or RGC CCPCR CCWC CDHS CDW CEDAW CHI CNCC CRC CWCC DoSVY EIC EIU FGD ILO INGO IOM IPEC LAC LEASETC LICADHO LSBE MMR MoEYS MoH MoI MoJ MLVT MoSVY MoU MoWA NGO OHCHR OSVY OVC PLAU Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association Anti-Human Trafficking and Juvenile Protection Behaviour Change Communication The Royal Government of Cambodia Cambodian Centre for the Protection of Children's Rights Commune Council for Women and Children Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey Child Domestic Worker Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women Child Helpline International Cambodian National Council for Children Convention on the Rights of the Child Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre Provincial Office of Social Affairs Education, Information, and Communication Economic Intelligence Unit Focus Group Discussion International Labour Organization International Non-governmental Organisation International Organization for Migration International Programme on the Elimination of Child Labour Legal Aid of Cambodia Law Enforcement Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children Project Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights Life-Skills Based Education Maternal Mortality Ratio Ministry of Education Youth and Sports Ministry of Health Ministry of Interior Ministry of Justice Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training Ministry of Social Affairs, Vocational Training and Youth Rehabilitation Memorandum of Understanding Ministry of Women’s Affairs Non-Governmental Organisation Office of the High Commissioner on Human Rights District Office of Social Affairs Orphans and Vulnerable Children Provincial Local Administration Unit




Provincial Offices of Local Administration Rural Aid Organization Rural Economic Development Association School Liaison Counsellor The Committee on the Rights of the Child The Convention on the Rights of the Child Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation in Cambodia The United Nations The United Nations Country Team The United Nations Development Assistance Framework The Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees The United Nations Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region The United Nations Children's Fund The United Nations Secretary General The United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia The World Health Organization Women and Children Focal Point World Vision Cambodia



INTRODUCTION The fundamental reason for mapping mechanisms to report violence against children in Cambodia is to identify what methods people use to report child abuse; why such methods are chosen; and to gain an understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of the identified official and non-official mechanisms. From literature and field research we were able to formulate recommendations for stakeholders in child protection to consider for the implementation of a holistic mechanism to report violence against children. The key challenges of the recommendations include the need for the State to spend more to enhance social service services and delivery; a larger budget to provide education to the child, young adult, and adult population of society to reduce violence against children and to build effective response mechanisms; and the dedication of resources to uphold national and international commitments to protect children and women from violence. Such efforts will require the mobilisation of the State, NGO, UN, and civil society to from a sustainable partnership to establish and maintain a confidential, safe, and child-friendly mechanism that is available to all children across the nation. Though Cambodia is a developing country with a large child population living in extreme or moderate poverty, 2 the Government is expected to increase its spending by 15 per cent in 2008. In late October it was reported that the government had approved a draft budget bill, which included total spending of US $1.25 billion – a 15 per cent year-on year increase. Details of the budget are limited but increased allocations for health, 3 education and social affairs are included for 2008. Therein lay an opportunity for the Ministries in charge of the social welfare of children, Commune Councils, UN agencies and NGOs to appeal for increased spending in the social sectors. Without increased Sate spending, gaps in the social sector such as coverage of social workers, the number of doctors per 100,000 people, and the low salaries of civil servants which correlates with low motivation, absenteeism and little incentive to report child abuse cannot be adequately addressed. Results found that establishing a comprehensive reporting mechanism will require the training of paraprofessionals (for example many social workers have medical training but no social work background) and those already in the position to report child abuse such as teachers and healthcare workers. The challenge in building the capacity of social service providers is that the adult literacy rate was about 73.6 per cent in 2004 (UNDP), up only from 62 per cent in 1990. The literacy rate for women was only 64.1 per cent in 2004 compared with 87.4 per cent for men. The primary enrolment rate has picked up, rising to 98 per cent in 2003 from only 69 per cent in1991, but the secondary rate stood at only 26 per cent in 2004. But the eradication of poverty and the establishment of a good public welfare system are at jeopardy as tertiary education is limited and has resulted in a shortage of skilled labour. For example, the Economic Intelligence Unit (EIU) reports that about 50 per cent of the population has no access to public healthcare. There has been a sharp decline in the number of doctors and nurses per head since the mid-1960s. Public health expenditure was estimated at 2.1 per cent of GDP in 2003, according to UNDP, amongst the lowest percentage of countries reporting data. The private sector has sought to fill the gap and private healthcare expenditure was estimated at 8.8 per cent of GDP in 2003. One recommendation of this study is to involve health workers in the local and national level reporting mechanisms, training them to recognise violence against children, teaching them how to make referrals and to write reports that prosecutors can rely on as evidence. However, the health sector will not have the capacity needed to participate in child protection if the State does not place more priority on healthcare spending. Increased spending on healthcare in countries such as Malaysia has decreased the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) significantly – which increases child survival and protection. Malaysia started this focus when there were only seven hospitals in the country; and its MMR decreased before its GDP increased through a phased intervention that included improved health care, nutrition, and water and sanitation; increased access to 4 skilled birth attendants and improved community-based care; and institutional care. While this issue is not specific to reporting violence against children per se, the example of Malaysia prioritising an area in the social services sector for greater budget allocations before it had a healthy GDP is relevant to Cambodia’s current economic situation and spending on public services.

Sachs, Jeffrey, The End of Poverty: How we can make it happen in our lifetime. Penguin Books, New York, 2005, p. 20. *Extreme poverty means that households cannot meet their basic needs for survival; Moderate poverty generally refers to conditions of life in which basic needs are met, but just barely. 2 Economic Intelligence Unit. Country Report: Cambodia, London, 2007, p.4. 3 Ibid., p.4. 4 Walters, WAW, Ford, JB, et al. (2002 May 6). ‘Maternal Deaths in Australia,’ The Medical Journal of Australia, 176(9) 413-414, as cited in UNICEF, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Health, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005, p. 9.



While implementing a holistic reporting mechanism will require extensive financing Cambodia does not have to build such a system alone. "Despite ongoing concerns over the government’s failure to make solid progress in tackling corruption, donors remain generally content with its policy performance … [its] new five-year development plan the National Strategic Development Plan (NSDP) and its corresponding plans setting out 5 priority government expenditure through the Public Investment Programme.” The economics of implementing a holistic reporting mechanism should be easier each year as the nominal GDP is forecasted to grow to 9 .7 per cent in 2008; and to 10.8 per cent in 2009. Therefore, a real opportunity exists for Cambodia to use its budget as a child rights instrument. This focus can extend to supplying the resources to implement and clarify existing reporting mechanisms, providing training to social service providers, and issuing guidelines to the relevant ministries to ensure a reporting process that holds someone accountable for reports of violence against children and the required follow-up. Cambodia can collaborate with UN agencies and civil society to implement the time-bound approach to eradicating violence against children as outlined in the UNSG World Report on Violence against Children (2006).

Timeline 2007 2009 2009

Recommended State-led Action Item Integrate national planning process measures to prevent and respond to violence against children, including the identification of a focal point, preferably at ministerial level. Prohibit all violence against children by law. Initiate a process to develop reliable national data collection systems.


Ibid. p. 24.



EXECUTIVE SUMMARY The key message of this study is that an official and multi-disciplinary reporting and response mechanism that is child friendly, confidential, and widely accessible is necessary to create a protective environment for all Cambodian children. No one can accomplish this task alone. The proportion of children compared to the available resources makes such a feat mathematically impossible; however, when agencies collaborate the inconceivable can happen. The UNSG World Report (2006) showed that children have suffered violence at the hands of adults unseen and unheard for centuries. Now that the scale and impact of violence against children is becoming visible, they cannot be kept waiting any longer for the effective protection to which they 6 have an unqualified right. The key words are unseen and unheard: With reliable ways for children and adults to report violence against children the voice of children – often shushed will be heard loud and clear. Children’s right to be protected from violence is enshrined in Article 19 of the Convention on the Rights of the Child (The Convention). The first section deals with the State’s obligation to protect children from all forms of abuse, while the second addresses the right of children and adults to report and seek help for all forms of physical, psychological, and sexual violence. This study looks at violence in the settings in which children experience it and the ways children and adults use to report and respond to such phenomenon. This is not an empirical study attempting to gauge the full scale of violence against children and women because we know from anecdotal evidence and prior research, that violence against children is endemic on a national and global scale. Stakeholders know this but researchers are hard-pressed to prove it because official reporting mechanisms are non-functioning, nonexistent, and/or unreliable. The State confirmed this perspective as Cambodia developed a draft national report to feed into the UNSG World Report, in which Cambodia officials state that no official complaint or reporting procedures exist in the country to report violence against children in the home, school, institutions, workplace, or community (e.g. the street). Over a three-week time span UNICEF Cambodia visited Svay Rieng and Prey Veng provinces, and the capital city of Phnom Penh to consult with provincial, district, and local officials, UNICEF staff, non-governmental organisation (NGO) staff, children and young people, and teachers and villagers to ascertain how violence against children is reported, the perceived response to official and non-official mechanism, gaps in the system and recommendations for improvement. In some rural areas, local officials said that the lack of infrastructure hindered reporting violence against children as villagers had no phone or radio, and had to depend on good weather in order to travel the dirt roads and make a verbal or written report to the commune chief/police. In other areas the prevailing societal norm that family business is private and that children need physical punishment to grow into responsible adults often overshadowed national domestic violence laws and The Convention. This study will further examine the capacity, coverage, and mandate of the official systems of Cambodia. The conclusions and recommendations consider the lingering devastation of the Khmer Rouge and widespread poverty, which are factors that shape the attitudes of many Khmers toward the appropriateness of violence and the general lack of social cohesion. At the end of each section are recommendations for the State, NGOs, UN agencies, parliamentarians, and other stakeholders of child protection to consider.


Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, p. 61.



METHODOLOGY A key recommendation of the UNSG World Report is for States to establish safe, well-publicised, confidential 7 and accessible mechanisms for children, their representatives and others to report violence against children. Effective mechanisms not only serve as an intervention tool, it makes violence against children visible and aids in the collection of national statistics. “Such data are needed to inform and guide child protection 8 policies.” Data collection for the UNICEF Cambodia study included a combination of research tools. The results were triangulated and compared to complete the final analysis. The limitations of this study included timing and time: Since school was no longer in session it was difficult to access school children and teachers. Likewise since it was harvesting period many children and adults were working in the field. As a result the focus group discussions (FGDs) were not large; however, the children and adults who attended FGDs and gave interviews added rich colour to the research and meaningfully participated. Though time and timing limited the scope of the study, the employment of various research tools added to the breadth and depth of information obtained, and enabled the research to confirm the State’s assertion that no official mechanisms to report violence against children exist; and to identify the agency children and adults substituted an official response with, and to uncover the potential to build upon existing initiatives and laws, and advocate for new mechanisms. Focus group discussions Focus group discussions (FGDs) were conducted with provincial, district, and local-level authorities, schoolaged children (some out of school), students, teachers and staff of NGO centres to examine the knowledge, attitudes, practices and experiences regarding violence against children and reporting mechanisms. The framework of questions probed barriers to reporting violence in addition to delving into the behaviours and attitudes that could be promoted as best practices. The FGDs allowed the children to identify issues of importance to them, express and analyse the issues of violence against children, reinforce the right that children have to report violence at home and in the community, and allowed them to participate in making recommendations to improve the reporting system and make it more child friendly. Key informant interviews The key informant interview is a standard anthropometric method used in social development inquiry to get detailed information from experts such as doctors, teachers, officials and NGO staff. The questions sought qualitative information that was used for narration, and accessed the quantitative data that professionals were privy to as a result of their position. Literature review of existing research   UNICEF Cambodia conducted desk review of the relevant literature, legislation and official reporting mechanisms vis-à-vis violence against children. Relevant perspectives, statistics, and recommendations were included from the following publications to inform research tools and methodologies: The World Report on Violence Against Children, UNSG The UNSG World Report (2006) report is based on the in-depth study of Paulo Sérgio Pinheiro, an independent expert appointed by the Secretary-General pursuant to General Assembly resolution 57/90 of 2002. The World Report provides a global picture of violence against children and proposes recommendations to prevent and respond to this issue. It provides detailed background information on the types of violence against children within the family, schools, alternative care institutions and detention facilities, the streets, and formal and informal places of employment, and pulls from consultations with officials, civil society, UN 9 agencies, children, and adults from all over the world. The key recommendation in the UNSG World Report that is most relevant to the UNICEF Cambodia mapping study is for States to “establish safe, well-publicised, confidential and accessible mechanisms for children, their representatives and others to report violence 10 against children.”

Ibid, p.4. Sarajevo Inter-governmental Conferences. (13-15 May 2004).Violence Against Children: Making Europe and Central Asia fit for Children, 2007, p. 6. 9 United Nations General Assembly: Sixty-first Session Item 62 (a) of the Provisional Agenda. (29 August 2006). Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Children, Rights of the Child: Note by the Secretary-General. 10 Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, p. 4.
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Implementation Handbook for the Convention on the Rights of the Child, UNICEF The Handbook provides a detailed reference for the implementation of law, policy and practice to promote and protect the rights of children. Article 19 of The Convention is discussed at length and includes ways for States and stakeholders to respond to reports of violence against children. Excerpts from reports from the Committee on the Rights of the Child (The Committee), is quoted throughout; however, the Committee advises States that a holistic reporting mechanism has several components including: Identification, reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up, judicial intervention (as appropriate), and special training for professionals who work with children. Stop Violence Against Us! Summary Report I and II, Tearfund (Cambodia) Summary Report I focussed on three aspects of the problem of violence against children - sexual abuse, domestic violence against children and corporal punishment. Summary Report II sought information on child trafficking, bullying, and gang violence. Both reports convey children's perceptions on violence and explore their ideas on how violence can be addressed to meet the needs of children. Through FGDs and questionnaires, the studies examined these issues with more than 1,300 Cambodian children from 12- to 15years-old. Street Children Profile, Friends International - Mith Samlanh This basic study analysed the ongoing challenges of children living and working on the streets in Phnom Penh. The profile includes information on the backgrounds of 1,001 such children who attend the Transitional Home, the Educational and Vocational Training Centres at Mith Samlanh, and those affected by HIV/AIDS who receive material support.



CONTEXT OF VIOLENCE History Wars and a genocidal regime have eroded Cambodia’s social infrastructure, morale, solidarity and some cultural traditions. Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge held power for almost four years during which an estimated 2 million people died from starvation, torture, or execution. The loss of family ties; and the deprivation of rights, dignity and honour have been in the heart of the Cambodian population for a full generation. Due to this troubled history many of today’s parents did not have the experience or example of positive parenthood. Instead war and public violence was a grim reality that faced them on a daily basis. As a result, a whole generation of Cambodians is missing parenting skills and models for the peaceful resolution of conflicts. The Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) notes that “a strong relationship between violent conflict in society and violence in the home. [For example,] after three decades of 11 war, violence is an accepted end to a conflict in most of Cambodia.” Poverty Poverty is acutely evident in all settings in Cambodia but poverty itself is not the issue rather the symptom of unchecked government corruption, a lack of decent-paying jobs, disparities, insufficient governmental spending in the social services sector, and endemic child labour which squanders the nation’s human capital and conflicts with the goal of eradicating extreme poverty. There is a consensus that from 35 per cent to 40 per cent of the population lives below the income poverty line, while from 15 per cent to 20 per cent lives in extreme poverty, particularly in rural areas. Gender Poverty heightens gender as a vulnerability to violence. Boys and girls have different risks to violence, though girls tend to face sexual violence at higher rates though often underreported. One example is that of child domestic work (CDW) in which girls are more likely to make up the bulk of the workforce and are subject to slavery-like conditions. According to the National Institute of Statistics, Child Domestic Worker Survey Phnom Penh (2003), only 5,900 children from 7- to 17- years-old are “domestic and related helpers, cleaners and launderers” (ISCO-88 Occupation No. 913); yet a separate dedicated study indicated that there were some 12 28,000 child domestic workers in Phnom Penh alone.” More than 50 per cent of all CDWs, “and 70 per cent of female CDWs, must work seven days per week; 60 per cent do not get even an hour of rest during the working day; 75 per cent receive no monthly cash salary; most must live in the house of their employer, away from their parents and siblings; and endure abusive treatment, in the form of being slapped with bare hands, beaten with objects or abused with harsh/vulgar words. Forty per cent of CDWs percent are out of school, and for those in school, limited free time and tiredness from their work make it difficult for them to keep up with 13 other children or to do their homework.”
[NO EVIDENCE THAT GIRLS SUFFER SEXUAL HARASSMENT ON THE JOB IN GARMENT FACTORIES: http://www.ilo.org/global/About_the_ILO/Media_and_public_information/Press_releases/lang-en/WCMS_007877/index.htm]

Sexual assault Sexual violence also has gender dimensions: Both girls and boys are susceptible to molestation or rape but many Cambodians don’t believe that boys can be raped. Thus the already limited child rape reporting and response mechanisms are woefully inadequate to address boys’ psychosocial and physical in the aftermath of 14 a sexual assault. Survey results revealed in Stop Violence Against Us, Summary Report I, that out of 508 girls, 13.3 per cent admitted to being sexually touched on the genitals before reaching the age of nine-years 15 old; while out of 462 boys, 15.7 per cent said they had been molested in this way too. Though the study didn’t reveal where the molestation took place, a lot of sexual violence is inflicted by family members or other people residing in or visiting a child’s family home – people normally trusted by children and often responsible for their care. “Most children do not report sexual violence they experience at home because they are afraid of

Pact Cambodia, Community Councils & Civil Society, Phnom Penh, 2004, p.8. ILO/UNICEF/World Bank, Inter-Agency Report to the Royal Government of Cambodia: Understanding children’s work: A challenge for growth and poverty reduction, Phnom Penh, 2006, p. 20. 13 ILO/UNICEF/World Bank, Inter-Agency Report to the Royal Government of Cambodia: Understanding children’s work: A challenge for growth and poverty reduction, Phnom Penh, 2006, p. 30. 14 Interview, Helen Sworn, Chab Dai (Joining Hands) Coalition, 25 October, Phnom Penh 2007. 15 Miles, G., Stop Violence against Us! Summary Report II, Tearfund (Cambodia) Phnom Penh, 2006, p. 26.
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what will happen to them and their families, that their families will be ashamed or reject them, or that they will 16 not be believed.” Child rape Child rape is more prevalent than reported due to the stigma and shame attached to the violent act, and the consequences that often follow such as inability to marry, unwanted pregnancy, or the belief that the child has an STI such as HIV. For the first half of 2007, out of the 165 rapes reported, 53 girls were younger than 15years-old, 10 girls were from 15- to 17-years old, and 41 girls were 18-year-olds. The remaining 56 cases were women. Out of the 165 cases reported, the police unit of the Ministry of Interior successfully investigated 104. Similarly, the highest number of “indecent assault cases” took place amongst girls younger than 15years-old (four out of 10), two indecent assault cases were reported amongst girls from 15- to 17-years-old; and no cases were reported amongst 18-year-olds. Out of 10 total reported indecent assault cases, 80 per 17 cent were child victims. As such, the police successfully investigated 60 per cent of indecent assault cases. Gang rape According to a study conducted by the Population Council (2004), gang rape is a growing phenomenon in many places, including Cambodia. In consultations with participant Cambodian young men, some considered it acceptable to gang rape (bauk) girls or women perceived as promiscuous, sexually available, or known 18 prostitutes. “I have never experienced bauk with a good girl,’ said one young male participant. According to a Tearfund quantitative study of 580 young people from 13-to 28-years-old in 24 districts across Phnom Penh, 34 per cent of boys and 14.5 per cent of girls at the participant school said they knew others involved in bauk. Only 13 per cent recognised bauk as rape or immoral because “The woman had 'consented' to having sex 19 and was a prostitute.” In Cambodia, for example, young men said “That they participated in gang rape ‘because we need sex and want to have fun together.’ Some reported that although they knew that gang rape 20 was unacceptable, they were forced by their friends to participate.” Gang and youth violence Extensive research on gang violence in Cambodia has not been undertaken although the presence of youth gangs is becoming an issue to village and commune chiefs. One second deputy commune chief said two boys 21 fought to the death in a village in his commune. Children reported the real and present danger of gang and youth violence in the Cambodia National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (2004) in which 2.5 per cent said that someone had threatened them with a weapon during the past year; and 8 per cent said they carried a knife, stick, club or other weapon within the past 30 days. This percentage contrasted with out-of-school children of 22 which 11 per cent had been threatened with a weapon, and five per cent admitted to carrying a weapon. A popular notion is that gang violence is isolated amongst the children living in poverty or on the streets but 23 “…in fact the children of officials are cited as causing trouble in some areas.” Alcoholism In FGDs and interviews for this study, police officers, local authorities, and children cited that the male head of the household was often drunk when domestic violence against children or women took place. In the Violence against Women Baseline Report Cambodia (2005), “[men] who drank alcohol twice a week were more likely to say they had acted violently than respondents who drank less often or never drank. In the Cambodia Demographic Health Survey (2005), 88 per cent of the women surveyed who reported that their husbands did not get drunk did not experience any [domestic] violence, compared to the 48 per cent of women whose 24 husbands drink frequently.” One village chief said he had two serious cases of domestic violence that were aggravated by alcoholism: One drunken man smashed a piece of wood on his wife’s head and blood poured out. The neighbour told the village chief, who reported to the commune police, and the man was arrested and

Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, pp. 54-55. Royal Kingdom of Cambodia, Ministry of Interior. Law Enforcement Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children Project, Statistics for 2007: Six months, Phnom Penh, 2007. 18 Wilkinson, Bearup, & Soprach. (2003, September 22-25). Presentation from Non-consensual Sexual Experiences of Young People in Developing Countries: A Consultative Meeting, as cited in ‘Sexual Coercion: Young Men’s Experiences As Victims And Perpetrators,’ Population Council, WHO, Youthnet, New Delhi, 2004, p. 3. 19 Miles, Glenn, Stop Violence against Us! Summary Report II, Tearfund (Cambodia) Phnom Penh, 2006, p. 32. 20 Ajuwon, Wilkinson, Bearup, & Soprach. (2003, September 22-25). Presentation from Non-consensual Sexual Experiences of Young People in Developing Countries: A Consultative Meeting, as cited in ‘Sexual Coercion: Young Men’s Experiences as Victims and Perpetrators,’ Population Council, WHO, Youthnet, New Delhi, 2004, p. 3. 21 FGD, Check Commune, Commune Council, 2007 September 27. 22 Miles, Glenn, Stop Violence against Us! Summary Report II, Tearfund, Phnom Penh, 2006, p. 32. 23 Pact Cambodia, Community Councils & Civil Society, Phnom Penh, 2004, p.16. 24 National Institute of Public Health and National Institute of Statistics, Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2005, Phnom Penh, 2006, p.295.
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sent to prison. The second case occurred when a drunken man tried to set his house on fire. Someone saw 25 him and stopped it before he could light the fire. Alcohol also puts children at greater risk to violence as it does women. One village chief said that some parents get very drunk and beat their children for no reason. At another commune a child reported that her two friends where chased around the house by their drunken 26 father with a knife. They hid under a table until he passed out then the boy ran to the village chief for help.

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FGD, Village and Deputy Village Chiefs, Braseth Commune, 3 October 2007. FGD, Children, Braseth Commune, 3 October 2007.



LEGAL FRAMEWORK After the fall of the Khmer Rouge and the end of decades of armed conflict, the United Nations Transitional 27 Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) guided the country in the formation of its legal framework. The Constitution was passed and human rights initiatives such as the ratification of The Convention took place shortly after. The legal framework of Cambodia is complex because the country is still in transition and the hierarchy of the main legal norms range from the Constitution, laws, and prakas, to legislation more limited in scope such as sub-decrees and circulars. Cambodia has passed some national legislation that creates an enabling environment for child protection; however, many of these laws have obscure and underutilised mechanisms to report violence against children and the lack of financial and human resources to implement the full scale of reporting. This section looks at the national framework for child protection and reporting violence against children; the gaps in implementation, the potential for scaling up existing mechanisms, and the necessity to pass new legislation and/or polices to ensure that children and citizens have a way to report violence and that there is a process in place to receive and respond to such reports. Legal Framework for Domestic Violence The following provisions included in the Constitution lays a foundation for protecting women and children from domestic violence: • • • • • • The right to life, personal freedom and security (Article 32). The law shall guarantee there shall be no physical abuse against any individual (Article 38). The right to equality of men and women before the law (Article 31). Protection from discrimination based on gender (Article 45). Protection of the rights of children (Article 48). The health of the people shall be guaranteed (Article 72).

Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims (2005) Although domestic violence is addressed in the Constitution, the 2005 domestic violence law was passed to strength the culture of non-violence and identifies Cambodians protected under the law (husband, wife, children, and any dependent under the same roof), and the actions considered violent such as “Acts affecting 28 life; acts affecting physical integrity; tortures or cruel acts; and sexual aggression.” Reporting procedures Reporting of domestic violence can take place in several ways according to the domestic violence law: • If officials intervene they are required to make a clear record about the incident and report it immediately to the prosecutors in charge. • If officials who have already earned the legal qualification as the judiciary police are absent – the local police, police agents, Royal Gendarmerie, local authorities in commune/sangkat, officials of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) as well as village chiefs who have intervened can make a record 29 to the court. The record has also the same value as the record made by judiciary police officials. • Authorities who have the role to serve the interests and protect the welfare of the children have an obligation to report domestic violence against children according to the following process: o In severe cases, the authorities in charge shall file the case to the court. Any responsible person assigned by the court including the prosecutors shall take charge of doing the follow up of the situation of the children and make a report about this situation to the court. Gaps in implementation The law focuses on punitive measure which could deter some women and children from reporting violence, particularly if the perpetrator is the sole income of the household. It also does not include rehabilitation measures such as anger management, alcohol rehabilitation, marital and family counselling, and other measures that should be tried first before the judicial system becomes involved. This is a serious barrier to reporting violence as most women don’t want to see their husbands in jail and children don’t want to lose their father – even if there is violence in the home. In numerous FGDs village and commune authorities reported

UNTAC: Operational from 1992 to 1993. Article 3. 29 The Royal Government of Cambodia, Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims, passed by the National Assembly on 16 September 2005, approved by the Senate in its total form and objective on 29 September 2005, Article 11, Phnom Penh, 2005, September 16.
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that even in serious cases of violence women asked that their husbands not be prosecuted and the authorities obliged. Ways for children and women to report domestic violence is not spelled out in this law, nor has the law’s definition of violence and scope been communicated to all stakeholders, according to some key informants interviewed for this mapping study. One 14-year-old boy said that even though people know about the domestic violence law, children don’t report because they cannot get help, and if the children tell they will get 30 punished worst. A village chief concurred: The children don’t understand that the hitting is violence and they are afraid that they will get more punishment if they report to the Village Chief and the Village Chief goes to 31 the house. But they always speak to their peers. Other children said they do not report violence because a lack of confidence in the system: Another 14-year-old boy said that his friend has never reported violence but if he were to report it, he would report to an organisation that works with children because the organisation 32 can really help the children and not the village authorities. According to the LICADHO Report on Violence against Women (2006), the domestic violence law has not been widely implemented in Cambodia. The group attributes the lack of enforcement to “engrained attitudes” amongst members of the authorities that domestic violence is a private matter that should not be interfered with by the public. Furthermore, the law does not define “authorities in charge.” In reality the important task of 33 responding to complaints of domestic violence is left to an undefined “authority.” Therefore, reporting and responding to domestic violence is murkily defined and victims sometimes are not sure where to report violence or to whom to report. The Government need only provide clarification in a sub-decree of the definition of the nearest authorities and authorities in charge that can intervene during domestic violence situations. A sub-decree is currently being drafted, however to date the text of the sub-decree has not been made public. Law on Marriage and Family (1989) The relationship between the child, his or her parents and the State are outlined in Article 1 of the Law on Marriage and Family. Reporting child abuse is facilitated under Article 120 which says that the People’s Court can revoke parental authority if a “State organisation, the mass organisation, the authorities attached to the people's court or any relatives of the parents” commits a fault. A fault is described in Article 119 as violating a child’s rights, or otherwise abusing him or her. “Parental power shall be revoked and transferred to any organisation or relative by blood, from parent who is at fault as follows: the parents fail to educate their child; the parents use improper power in violation of the child rights or forcing him to commit crimes or acts against society; the parents treat badly their children; or the parents behave against the moral standards which have a 34 bad influence over their children.” Gaps in implementation The reality is that the one reporting mechanism of this law is never enforced. Parents commit “faults” by pushing or allowing their children to skip school and work. This is evident by looking in the rice fields or on the streets during the middle of the day, and seeing children engaging in labour instead of going to school. One Village Chief said he always advises parents that if they allow their children to go to school, that they will be 35 able to take care of the parents better when they are older; but this doesn’t always work. In other FGDs children and village chiefs said that parents sometimes force their children to quit school to work; and the local authorities only counsel the parent; they do not refer the case to the relevant agency for extreme measures such as revocation of parental status. Therefore, the reporting (intervention) mechanism in this law is unused and in essence is not in the spirit of the Convention which is to keep families together and stop any violence against children. “While all reports of violence against children should be appropriately investigated and their protection from significant harm assured, the aim should be to stop parents using violent or other cruel or 36 degrading punishments through supportive and educational, not punitive, interventions.”

Draft Education Law (2007)

FGD, Children, Kandeung Ray Village, 25 September 2007. FGD, Village Chief, Braseth Commune, 3 October 2007. 32 FGD, Children, Check Commune, 28 September 2007. 33 Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights, A LICADHO Report: Violence against Women in Cambodia, LICADHO, Phnom Penh, 2006, p. 7. 34 The Royal Government of Cambodia, Law on Marriage and Family, Article(s) 119 and 120, Phnom Penh, 1989. 35 Braseth Commune, 3 October 2007. 36 Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 8. The Right of the Child to Protection from Corporal Punishment and Other Cruel or Degrading Forms of Punishment (Articles 19, 28(2) and 37, inter alia), CRC/C/GC/8, 2006.
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The draft Education Law incorporates many child-friendly school (CFS) characteristics including expressly forbidding a teacher’s use of corporal punishment. The objectives of the law, as stated in Article 1, are to determine the national measures and criteria for building the completely comprehensive and standardised education system ensuring the principles of freedoms of studies and equity in education as enshrined in the Constitution of the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Charter of the United Nations. In Article 35 one of the rights of learners is to be “Respected and paid attention to human rights, especially the right to dignity, the right to be free from any form of torture or from physical and mental punishment.” This provision is in line with The Committee’s declaration in addressing children’s discipline in schools, “Children do not lose their human rights by virtue of passing through the school gates. Education must also be provided in a way that respects the strict limits on discipline reflected in Article 28(2) and promotes 37 nonviolence in school.…” Both children and parents can complain if the child’s rights are violated. “Parents or guardians, learners and educational personnel, whose rights specified in this law, are violated, have the right to request or complain to the competent educational authority at different levels as well as to the court.” Gaps in implementation A specific reporting mechanism has not been established as the draft law states that “The Ministry in 38 charge of Education shall issue regulations on procedures for requests, complaints and solutions.” The regulation should be issued soon so that children have ways to report violence at school. A school-based reporting mechanism that allows children to confidently report both school-based violence and domestic would be ideal. For example, one education focal point of a CCWC said that teachers talk to him if children are being abused at home. In other cases if the child doesn’t come to school for a long time and the teacher goes to the 39 house for an investigation, the teacher finds out that violence is occurring at the home. This CCWC member said that most teachers don’t mind responding to violence that occurs at home or school but need more training and support to do so. Labour Law (1997)  Although the Ministry of Labour & Vocational Training (MoLVT) has oversight over all labour in the country, the legislation to monitor and enforce labour codes are limited or non-functioning in most sectors in which children work. For example, Article 178 provides that a “labour inspector [from the MoLVT’s Department of Labour] can request a physician, who is in public service, to examine children less than 18 years of age employed in an enterprise in order to establish that their jobs are not beyond their physical capabilities. If this is the case, the Labour Inspector is empowered to demand that their job be changed or that they be let out of the establishment upon the advice or examination of the physician, if their parents so protest.” Gaps in implementation According to a U.S. Department of State Report on human rights practices and labour, a lack of staffing, operational, and logistical capacities plague the Department of Labour Inspection. “There is also a lack of understanding and awareness on laws and systems of enforcement among inspectors. Sanctions for violators of legal provisions relating to child labour are unclear, and no employer has to date been brought to court for 40 violating current child labour laws.” Cambodia has made a number of important legal commitments in the area of child labour but essential ambiguities and gaps in legislation relating to child labour, and the ability to children to report violence in the workplace remain. Of particular concern, the Cambodia Labour Law has not been extended to informal sector enterprises or settings, where the overwhelming majority of child labourers are concentrated. This means family-based agriculture and domestic service are not covered by legislation. The Law also does not specifically define what constitutes child labour in terms of type of work, conditions of work, or work hazards. The labour law does not provide a way for children to file complaints against employers or fellow employees in cases of abuse, therefore, child workers may accept violence on the job as the norm or fail to report it in fear of losing their jobs. The enforcement of child labour laws is another major challenge facing the government, and the

Committee on the Rights of the Child, General Comment No. 15: The right of the child to protection from corporal punishment and other cruel or degrading forms of punishment, CRC/C/GC/15. 38 The Royal Government of Cambodia, Draft Education Law, Article 40, Phnom Penh, 2007. 39 Sombur Commune, 26 September 2007. 40 ILO/UNICEF/World Bank, Inter-Agency Report to the Royal Government of Cambodia: Understanding children’s work: A challenge for growth and poverty reduction, Phnom Penh, 2006, p. 46.



government by its own admission currently does not have the capacity to properly enforce and monitor laws 41 relating to child labour. Anti-trafficking policy framework In Cambodia, rural children and young women seek better economic opportunities within Cambodia and in neighbouring countries. While some victims– both male and female –are sold to, or forced to go with, traffickers by relatives or friends for sexual and labour exploitation, most trafficking occurs during the course of voluntary but un-prepared migration. Using coercion, deception (like the promise of a job), and sometimes violence or the threat of violence, the trafficker diverts the young (often female) migrant into prostitution, forced labour and other slave-like conditions, including domestic servitude. Trafficking is increasingly recognised as a serious problem facing Cambodia today. Child victims (boys and girls) in most cases end up 42 in the various worst forms of sexual and labour exploitation. The draft Law on Suppression of Human Trafficking and Sexual Exploitation (2007) specifies that a minor is a 43 child younger than 18. The law carries greater penalties for trafficking, commercial sexual exploitation of minors, and child pornography. In Article 8 of the MoU on Cooperation in Eliminating Trafficking in Children and Women and Assisting Victims of Trafficking (2003), child and women victims have rights to the investigation and judicial intervention components of reporting violence and “have access to the due process 44 of law to claim for criminal justice, recovery of damages, and any other judicial remedies.” The State has made a commitment to progressively eliminate all forms of child labour and immediately ending its worst forms. The National Poverty Reduction Strategy and the Cambodian Millennium Development Goals aim to reduce the proportion of child labour to 8 per cent by 2015. Schooling is seen as one of the best tools to combat child labour and school enrolment is on the rise, with the National Plan of Action on Education seeking to put all children from 6- to 14- years old in schools by 2010. The Education for All initiative commits to enrolling all children by 2015. The State has drafted a National Plan of Action on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour. The plan adopts a holistic approach that targets specific areas and sectors of child labour for immediate elimination and links it to the country’s SEILA programme, which is designed to build up capacities of local government and development agencies. It draws on partnerships with other donors, agencies and the 45 private sector. Gaps in implementation The anti-trafficking law has no reporting provisions except for the concealment of the victim’s identity in the 46 media. This law could be strengthened with a reporting function such as requiring local government and the public to report the presence of suspected and known traffickers in the village. A village chief from Cheong Phom Commune said that if the authorities suspect that a stranger in the village is a trafficker, under collaboration with the villagers they will investigate within the village and with nearby villagers to confirm their suspicions. If they are certain that the person is a trafficker, someone in the village will immediately inform the 47 police and neighbouring villages. However this is a voluntary effort – under the new law no one has the mandate to alert the authorities of traffickers in the village or commune.

Ibid., p.6. Cambodia's Keynote: The 3rd Session of the Sub-Regional Advisory Committee (SURAC) of the Mekong Project to Combat Trafficking in Children and Women, 8-9 September 2005, Bangkok, Thailand, Oum Mean, Under Secretary of State, Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training, Deputy Chairperson, National Sub-Committee on Child Labour, p.1. 43 Ibid, Article 7. 44 Memorandum of Understanding between the Government of the Kingdom of Thailand and the Government of the Kingdom of Cambodia on Bilateral Cooperation for Eliminating Trafficking in Children and Women and Assisting Victims of Trafficking, Article 8 (e), Phnom Penh, 2003. 45 The Royal Government of Cambodia/Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training/ILO-IPEC, Phnom Penh, 2005, p.3. 46 Ibid, Article 49. 47 Cheong Phom Commune, 1 October 2007.
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Best Practices on preventing and reporting child trafficking used in Sri Lanka and India tsunami camps 1. In Sri Lanka, an estimated 5,000 children lost one or both parents. UNICEF partnered with the National Child Protection Authority The strategic communication programme included several components but the reporting aspects included: Procedures for reporting unaccompanied and separated children; the need to avoid institutionalisation of unaccompanied children; the importance of following national laws and procedures when handing over children to caregivers. 2. In the India tsunami shelters, UNICEF supported the printing and distribution of more than 5,000 booklets and posters, 1,000 banners on trafficking awareness. The materials had phone numbers of a helpline and helped to report child trafficking cases quickly. Source: UNICEF, Behaviour Change Communication in Emergencies, UNICEF ROSA, Kathmandu, 2006, pp. 146-147. Policy on Alternative Care for Children (2006) The Policy on Alternative Care for Children describes the different forms of alternative care for children without primary caregivers, including residential care, community and family based care, adoption, group homes, and individual living arrangements. The policy also discusses the principles of alternative care, in particular the best interests of the child, non-discrimination, participation of children and the right to protection, development and protection. A hierarchy of options is described to safeguard the best interest of the child: family solutions are preferred above institutional solutions; permanent solutions such as return to the birth family, are preferred over provisional solutions and national solutions over international solutions. Placement of the child in institutional care is considered an option of last resort. As far as mechanisms to report violence, the following provisions are stipulated: First, institutions are to “formalise, establish and monitor standards based on the [alternative care] policy framework.” Second, “the development of community based supervision and protection mechanisms for children in [alternative care situations] taking into account the royal 48 government’s decentralised structures and responsibilities.” However, research done by UNICEF Cambodia and other organisations found that the reporting mechanisms have yet to be fully implemented, and that there is no one person overseeing its implementation. Prakas on Minimum Standards on Residential Care for Children The Prakas on Minimum Standards on Residential Care for Children outline management, monitoring and reporting guidelines for centres. Article 5 requires that the district/commune authorities are informed immediately if a child is abducted, is missing, or is deceased. Collaboration with DoSVY (the Provincial Office of Social Affairs) must take place at the same time so a concerted effort can be made to find the child. Article 7 deals with complaints and legal protection of the child while in residential care and requires that management and staff of the facility ensure that children are informed of their rights and procedures to make a complaint; and that an incident management plan for handling any allegations or suspicions of misconduct toward children is established by the facility; that the Case Management Officer ensure that the children are protected from harm when filing a complaint or taking legal action. Gaps in implementation In reality the prescribed monitoring and reporting process does not happen in residential care institutions. Recent UNICEF studies show that 91 per cent of alternative care institutions have no written principles on 49 complaints procedures (which should include reporting mechanisms) in place. This is an ever-present situation in most social service provider situations due to the limited funding for staff and other professionals needed to support children living in community-based care and the inability of civil society to fill this gap.

The Royal Government of Cambodia/The Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Prakas on the Promulgation of Policy on Alternative Care for Children, Phnom Penh, 2006. 49 Written correspondence with Harknett, Steven, Social Policy Advisor, UNICEF Cambodia, Phnom Penh, 2 December 2007.



RESOURCES TO IMPLEMENT LEGAL FRAMEWORK The national laws, regional agreements and international conventions and protocols set a strong foundation for a Cambodia that guarantees the wellbeing and rights of all its citizens, particularly women and children. When we speak of rights, we are referring to simple, yet fundamental aspects such as ensuring that all children have access to good health care, that all children go to school and receive a decent education, that all children are brought up by families who love and respect them, protected from abuse and exploitation, that all families are guaranteed sufficient income to ensure a decent life for all its members. This applies to, among other factors, budgetary and fiscal policy which should be viewed as a tool to not only ensure sufficient government revenues or the control of deficits, but as a way to provide sufficient resources for the universal fulfilment of basic rights, particularly access to quality basic social services that support comprehensive mechanisms to report violence against children and women. In order to arrive at this end, fiscal objectives must be pursued on the basis of recognition of real and often severe resource limitations, and 50 the need to maintain macroeconomic stability, including limiting deficits and indebtedness.


United Nations Children’s Fund, Concept Note: Eyes on the budget as a human rights instrument, UNICEF, New York, 2007, p.2.



SOCIAL SERVICE SYSTEMS Social service providers are central figures in reporting and responding to violence against children. Whether the abuse takes place at school, home, in the workplace or an institution, a professional from the social sector is needed to provide psycho-social, medical, justice, and/or legal assistance. Cambodia’s social services system is climbing an uphill battle to sustain the loss of doctors, lawyers, professors and other intellectuals who died during the Khmer Rouge. The massive brain-drain combined with a subsequent baby boom has rendered the social service provision woefully inadequate. Other factors in the capacity of the social service system include a 1997 adult literacy rate of about 67 per cent, which is among the lowest in Southeast Asia. This limits the population’s ability to make an informed demand for social services and presents a major challenge to the State’s access to human resource capital. About 40 per cent of the Cambodian population has never attended school, and less than one per cent has had any training beyond high school. Thus, Cambodia lacks even the skilled personnel to effectively improve its administrative, legal, educational, and medical institutions. A key cross-cutting issue in the public sector, the social services sector in particular is low salaries. “The seriousness of the issue of low public salaries in Cambodia is well-known, and its importance is self-evident. The current scale of salary for public officials is far below the subsistence level. The average monthly wage per civil servant was only $24 in 1998. This prevails among the majority of public servants across all branches of power, except top level government officials and legislators (However, judges and prosecutors are not an exception to this point). Not surprisingly, this creates an incentive for public officials—either to work side-jobs, exclusively for aid-funded projects in return for salary supplements, or to abuse their authority to generate 51 unofficial income.” The social services sector is further challenged by the diverse settings from which children experience and report violence, and the lack of infrastructure in rural villages which serve as a barrier to the timely reporting of violence. For example, during the rainy season the dirt roads leading to one village were too muddy for the village chief to report a child rape case to the commune police. More than three days passed and the forensic 52 evidence needed to prosecute the case was no longer available.

Asian Development Bank, Enhancing Governance for Sustainable Development Enhancing Governance for Sustainable Development, 2001, p.35. 52 FGD, Commune Council for Women and Children, Angtaso Commune, 24 September 2007.



KEY FINDINGS Social workers The capacity of the social work sector in Cambodia is extremely low and lacks the diversity needed to match the demographics of the population. Social workers should be the liaison between all social service providers, “[mediating] between the people, the State and other authorities….” But in Cambodia only 53 per cent of State 53 social workers have been trained. On top of that the average social worker is a 50-year-old male and at the provincial and district levels only 17 per cent are women; these social workers are usually trained or educated in other areas but have no social work background. There are only four State social workers for every 100,000 people – a ratio that makes it impossible for district and provincial social workers to manage and monitor reports of child abuse in each of their respective communes. Therefore, there is no social worker presence at 54 the commune and village level. Role in reporting violence against children State social workers are charged with the child protection-related duties of collecting information on the situation of vulnerable people within the district (khand), children in conflict with the law, and orphans and 55 abandoned children. This mandate does not explicitly require social workers to refer reports of violence against children to other social service providers, nor does it require social workers to follow up on suspected or confirmed cases of child abuse. Social workers do have the responsibility to report cases of sexual abuse, labour exploitation, child abandonment, domestic violence with physical injury, and children in conflict with the law in criminal cases, according to the OSVY and DSVY Social Workers’ Role in Criminal Cases (District and Provincial offices of Social Affairs, respectively). According to the praka, the social worker must write a summary report of the case and forward the report and required documents to partner agencies such as the police or health department. The social worker should also provide victim support during the case. If any of the prescribed cases happen within the family, the social worker is mandated to raise the issue of removing parental 56 authority with the police or prosecutor. Interviews with village and commune authorities confirmed that this reporting process does not happen. In domestic violence cases that result in an arrest, the commune police typically detain the perpetrator for 24 hours and later release the perpetrator if the woman (typically a woman complainant) doesn’t want the case to go to the district or provincial level. In many communes criminal cases don’t get reported to OSVY, therefore, the office has limited knowledge of the real situation of children and women in the communes. This lack of perspective, coupled with the wide coverage of social workers, insufficient finances for transportation and the provision of victim support services (i.e. medical or legal support) makes it difficult (and in some cases 57 impossible) for social workers to fulfil their mandate. In some villages the WCFP takes on the role of collecting information on orphans and abandoned children, but sometimes children do not benefit from this system. One commune chief said sometimes a child will be walking around in the village and people will ask who is this strange child? The commune chief will contact the commune police to investigate, and he will learn that the child is an orphan or has been abandoned and begin to look for alternative care. If the child is a boy he will most likely stay in a pagoda until long-term care can be found (or if the child decides to be a monk he will stay long term); if the child is a girl they will try to find 58 someone in the village to foster her until they can find long-term arrangements. Health workers Cambodia has some of the worst health conditions in the region. At the end of the Khmer Rouge (1979) only 50 doctors remained in the country. Since then the physician density has dropped from 30 doctors per 100,000 people (2002) to the current ratio of 16 doctors per 100,000 people (2007). Most doctors are located

State social workers are paraprofessionals as they have received training from UNICEF and NGOs. United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF Cambodia Internal Document, Phnom Penh, UNICEF, 2006, p. 37. MoSVY provides social workers on the district and provincial levels/the Royal Government of Cambodia/Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation, Prakas 395 on OSVY. 56 The Royal Government of Cambodia, OSVY and DSVY Social Workers’ Role in Criminal Cases, Phnom Penh. 57 United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF Cambodia Internal Document, Phnom Penh, UNICEF, 2006, p. 37. 58 Ibid.
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at the provincial level, and health workers (nurse, pharmacists, and medical assistants) have a coverage rate 59 of about 1 per 1,000 people. Coverage and service delivery are aggravated by the low pay of health workers (some earn as little as $15 per month) and little oversight that has led to the practice of some medical staff offering private services 60 outside of the centre. The Ministry of Health, with support from the WHO, is moving toward a sector-wide approach to the development of health, but as majority of donor assistance is going toward infrastructure 61 needs while capacity building for basic service delivery appears to remain insufficient. Role in reporting violence against children Health workers are not required by law to report suspected or confirmed cases of violence against children to any social service provider or actor within the justice system. Because there is no mandate, doctors have varying opinions on what their role should be in reporting child abuse. The two medical doctors interviewed for this study had opposite opinions: At one provincial hospital, a doctor (also the hospital director) said that his health staff goes with the conclusions of the family. If the child is injured and the parent says it was not hitting we conclude that it was not hitting. This doctor believes that health workers should take the word of the 62 parent/person who brings the child for treatment. Another doctor said that there should be a reporting system in the hospital because sometimes a child is who has suffered child abuse is sent to the hospital for 63 treatment and it would be good if the hospital had a reporting system for safe and confidential intervention. The doctors concurred that health workers do not have the training to recognise violence against children but didn’t agree on whether health workers should report suspected cases of abuse to social workers or the police. As there is no clear role or mandate from the Ministry of Health, research found that other factors preventing the health sector from participating in reporting child abuse is the general disagreement amongst health workers on their role; prevailing societal attitudes on the privacy of family matters, and insufficient training to distinguish between accidental injuries and those caused by violence. The Ministry of Health has introduced the Document for Sexual Abuse Examination, a seven-page form required to examine victims (including minors) of alleged sexual assault. Doctors are mandated to use the form to examine victims of sexual assault. The form is the equivalent of a forensic certificate, and is issued by the Provincial Board of Medical Expertise. Upon a written request hospitals are obliged to give copies to the judicial police, the judge, the prosecutor or the victim’s attorney; however, the victim does not have access to the form. The form hasn’t been approved by all provinces but a medical worker interviewed for the study said that the new form looks much easier to use as it has check boxes and illustrations whereas the old form was fill-in-the64 blanks and are more complex. Although the form has great potential to assist prosecutors in successfully 65 closing rape cases, a case study has noted some key issues that limit the value of the form. For example: • • In some provinces the victim can request an exam; in others the hospital will only do an exam if there is an official written request from the police or a justice official. In some provinces, doctors fill out the form during the exam, sign it, and issue it as the official certificate. Other doctors take notes and fill out and sign the form later. Yet others fill out the form during the exam but issue a different form with a brief conclusion (such as ‘raped’ or ‘still a virgin’). In some provinces, members of the Forensics Committee are only allowed to perform the exam. However, in most cases, any doctor in the relevant section of the hospital can do it. Some provincial hospital will do the exam on weekends and holidays; but most only perform it during regular working hours, and many will only do it during the morning hours. This has implications on the preservation of evidence in addition to the physical and psychological suffering of the child victim especially.

• •

Walford, V., Cambodia Country Health Briefing Paper: A paper produced for the Department for International Development, IHSD, London, 2000, p. 3. 60 Ibid., p. 3. 61 Asian Development Bank, Country Assistance Plan: Cambodia, Social Infrastructure: Health. Retrieved from http://www.adb.org/documents/caps/CAM/0303.asp. 62 Interview, Medical Doctor, Sombur Commune, 26 September 2007. 63 Interview, Medical Doctor, Cheoung Phnom Commune, 1 October 2007. 64 Interview, Medical Assistant, Cheoung Phnom Commune, 1 October 2007. 65 Ashby, Janet, Multi-Stakeholder Analysis on Authorized Health Examination Certificate Form Utilization for the Law Enforcement Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children Project, UNICEF Cambodia, Phnom Penh, 2006.



• • • •

• •

Some provinces refuse to perform the exam on married women, since they are presumably not virgins; others do not know how to deal with boys, as many Cambodians think it impossible for a boy to be raped. Other hospitals will do an exam on anyone who makes a request. At least one province typically issues the signed form the same day – at the latest two days. Others typically take two weeks, and in some places a victim can wait a month or more for issuance of the certificate. In some provinces a copy of the official certificate will be issued to police, court, or the victim’s lawyer; in others the hospital will only release it to the prosecutor; however, it is not considered appropriate to release the form to the victim on the grounds of “confidentiality.” A fee from KHR 20,000 to KHR 150,000 is charged in every province. In some provinces there is one initial payment but in others it is necessary to pay separately for each copy of the certificate issued. In some provinces, the payment is distributed to members of the Forensic Committee, in others it goes into the general funds of the hospital.

The inconsistency and lack of regulations regarding the use of the Document for Sexual Abuse Examination places hurdles in the reporting and investigation phase of reporting violence against children and can cause the contamination or loss of vital evidence needed to successfully prosecute rapists. The fees and sometimes long wait for the form, coupled with the inability of the victim to verify or dispute the conclusion made by the doctor, increases mistrust of the system and denies the victim the right to ensure that the report is made according to his or her experience. Lack of regulations on performing the examination intensifies the trauma of rape as the inability to receive immediate medical attention prolongs physical and psychological pain, and can lead to a the loss or corruption of forensic evidence. Local government The nation-wide elections in 2002 established the Commune Council as a key institution in local 66 governance. To date there are 1,621 communes in Cambodia with a total of 11,261 elected councillors. The Commune Councils are responsible for local development and social welfare. However, there are no clearly articulated assigned functions for health, education and child protection (with the exception of birth 67 registration). Thus, the approach of Commune Councils to violence against children is ad-hoc and lacks regularity. Figure 1: Commune Council Structure, Commune Council & Civil Society, p. 6.

Commune Committee for Women and Children (CWCC) The Ministry of the Interior (MoI), with support from the Seth Koma (Child Rights) section of UNICEF Cambodia piloted the establishment of a Commune Committee for Women and Children (CCWC) to advise 68 the Commune Council on issues related to women and children. The members of the CCWC include the second deputy commune chief, a health centre focal point, and an education focal point. As of this year (2007), there are 317 CCWCs in operation with the mandate to:

The Royal Government of Cambodia/UNICEF Cambodia, Commune Council for Women and Children Proposal: Improving Local Service Delivery, Competency Development Programme for Commune Committees for Women and Children/Focal Points, Phnom Penh, 2007, p. 1. 67 The Royal Government of Cambodia, Law on Local Administration Local administration and Management of Commune Sangkat (1201/2001), Article 43, Phnom Penh. 68 The Royal Government of Cambodia, Ministry of Interior, Guideline No. 005, Phnom Penh, 2004.



  

Ensure closer coordination between the commune and providers of essential social services for children (e.g. links to schools, health centres, justice and social workers). Encourage communities, and in particular vulnerable groups within those communities, to articulate their needs and refer them to appropriate services to meet those needs. Ensure equity in access to services, and closely monitor their delivery and quality.

A joint initiative of 1,621 commune councils and the UNICEF Cambodia Seth Koma section has led to a revised version of the commune and village database and guidelines for data collection (2006) which includes modified and additional indicators on women’s and children’s issues. In addition, the Commune Chiefs and Commune Focal Points for Women and Children in 422 communes have been trained to protect and promote women and children’s rights through activities such as mobilising parents for birth registration, immunisation 69 and enrolling children in primary school at the age set forth by the Ministry of Education. The clarification of roles and responsibilities has been implemented with 152 Commune Councils so that these bodies have the capacity to manage social sector projects in addition to identifying challenges that need to be addressed, such as clarity of roles between the various provincial departments for monitoring. Significant contrasts exist between the approach and levels of involvement of the WCFPs and CCWCs in reporting and responding to violence against children. For example, one WCFP receives reports from the Commune Council on violence against children. She immediately reports it to the district and provincial authorities, records the incident it in her notebook, and furthers the report to the Commune Chief and Second 70 Deputy Commune Chief so that they too can record the incident. Another WCFP receives reports from neighbours, children, wife, or the village chief that violence is taking place in a household. If the violence is serious she assists the victim in getting to the hospital and calls the commune police to arrest the perpetrator. If the violence is not serious then the WCFP, the village and commune chief will go to the house and provide education to the family such as the penalty for violence, an explanation of what violence means – i.e. hitting and shouting. The WCFP for this commune goes back the next day to reinforce what she said, particularly if the father was drunken. If the (non-serious) violence happens again, she invites the entire village to the house and explains the impact of violence against children on children. She said that sometimes the perpetrators feel so embarrassed that they stop. She also has two meetings per month with children representatives and has bi-quarterly dramas on violence against children. She often asks the child who experiences violence at home to participate and sometimes the children and parents cry; however, she follows up with the family to ensure that the child does not get punished for 71 participating. Yet another WCFP said that she mainly focuses on OVCs: She collects data of vulnerable children (those affected by HIV/AIDS, abandonment, neglecting, or orphan hood). She does this four times per month and 72 uses the data for planning. If given a clear mandate the WCFP has great potential to be the voice of women and children at risk and in violent situations. Presently the lack of a clear role in reporting and responding to violence against children limits the part that WCFP play in feeding into an official reporting mechanism. Role in reporting violence against children Reporting violence against children by local government authorities differ from commune-to-commune. In some communes UNICEF supports a Child Protection Network in which each member has a specific child protection, reporting function. In many Communes the CCWC said material hindered their efforts to report: We have no resources to write reports, no camera, no computer, no materials - just pencils and paper, one 73 CCWC member said. The commune needs better equipment to preserve evidence. Police officers The police structure of Cambodia includes the national police, traffic police, anti-human-trafficking police (AHTJP), the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces (RCAF), the Military Police. “In Cambodia’s police force, untrained and unprofessional policemen dominate both the civilian and military police. The number of the civil police personnel in the country is about 67,000 while that of the military police and gendarmerie is about

Draft Education Law, 2007, Article 32” Enrolment of children in grade 1 (one) of the formal general education program shall be set at an age of 6 (six) years or at least 70 (seventy) months on the date of the beginning of the school year.” 70 FGD, Commune Council for Women and Children, Kondeangreay Commune, 25 September 2007. 71 FGD, Commune Council for Women and Children, Cheoung Phnom Commune, 1 October 2007. 72 FGD, Commune Council for Women and Children, Kay Trabek Commune, 26 September 2007. 73 FGD, Commune Council for Women and Children, Sombur Commune, 26 September 2007.



10,000.” All police officers are mandated to maintain peace, security, and stability, and to enforce law and 75 order. They are also responsible for the eradication of the sexual exploitation of minor children and women. Through the Law Enforcement Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children (LEASETC) project three provincial police hotline services were established and child-friendly interview/investigation rooms were created in five provinces. Police training (as of 2006) continued on the handling of trafficking and sexual abuse/exploitation cases, with a total of 1,080 officers from the district and commune level in participation. Even with training and ongoing support it is necessary to note that the typical police officer in Cambodia is underpaid, under-trained and lacks the necessary resources to maintain high morale and operate 76 effectively. It is also very difficult for the general population and (and for children to trust the police). “Corruption by poorly paid officials among Cambodia’s public officials is [a] fact of every-day life in the country. Despite it being a clear breach of the police rules of discipline, such corruption is widespread, and can take the forms of unofficial fines for traffic offences and services provided as well as illegally negotiated compensation agreements between offenders and victims through which the police get a proportion of the financial settlement. This practice has resulted in serious offences such as rape [and child rape] going 77 unpunished by the formal criminal justice system.” Role in reporting violence against children To fight corruption in police investigation and keep better track of trafficking and commercial sexual 78 exploitation in Cambodia (TSEC), the MoI and UNICEF developed a database to monitor the number of reported cases on TSEC and the number of arrests. The database disaggregates information according to the type of violence committed against the child or woman, the details of the perpetrator, and a summary report of the incident. Each case has a code number that cannot be changed or dropped (to guard against corruption). The form has not reached its full potential as a reporting mechanism because it is much longer than the original one-page summary report form, and requires more time, said Christian Guth, UNICEF Cambodia project staff, who works with the MoI on this initiative. “We have trained operators, established a monitoring system, and conducted yearly refresher trainings but the database is still not yet able to provide reliable statistics. So still we ask them [police officers] to send case reports because it’s only one page and the [one in the] database is several [pages long].” A 24-hour hotline and response unit was established under the MoI and central AHTPJ, and has been in operation seen October 2000. The hotline is supported by UNICEF and World Vision. Victims, their families or third parties can report cases and receive information about referral options. During 2006, the three provincial police hotline services were established in three provinces and two municipalities. Data from the provincial hotline shows that of the 351 calls received in 2007, rape was the most reported crime, the victim was the one who called the most, and the local police were the authority that most commonly investigated. Statistics from the hotline established in the municipalities revealed that rape was once again the most commonly reported crime, but that a relative of the victim called the most, while the case was most commonly referred to the MoI 79 for investigation.


Muzamil, Jaleel, Who are Cambodian Police? Asian Human Rights Commission, para. 1. Retrieved 2 December 2007 from http://www.hrsolidarity.net/mainfile.php/1998vol08no10/1820/. 75 The Royal Government of Cambodia, Ministry of Foreign Affairs & International Cooperation, General Police. Retrieved 2 December 2007, from http://www.mfaic.gov.kh/foreignpolicy.php. 76 Overseas Advisory Council, Bureau of Diplomatic Security, U.S. Department of State, Cambodia 2007 Crime & Safety Report: Police response. Retrieved 2 December 2007 from https://www.osac.gov/reports. 77 Das, K, Dilip, Palmiotto, Michael. The World Police Encyclopaedia, Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 2006, New York, p. 149. 78 (2005) 79 The Royal Government of Cambodia/Ministry of Interior, Provincial Hotline Activities, 2007.



PROVINCIAL HOTLINE ACTIVITIES MONTH: Province & Types of cases AUGUST YEAR: Callers 2007 Investigated by







Ind A








Municipalities Siem Reap S' Ville BM Chey Kg Chhnang BTB PP Total

51 79 86 75 59 130 351

19 27 32 42 45 15 180

7 14

18 9 25 18 6

7 20 11 8 5 14 9

6 9

15 34 19

17 27 50 5 45 10 154

5 9 17 5 8 50 0


1 11 1 3 4


1 5 6 3 21 0




38 2 5

27 4 35

30 14 14 30

25 29

25 0

40 24

20 46 14

30 8 0

5 0


Rape Ind A Sb CSE HT HTCB Dch Missg Porn

Rape Indecent Assault Sell or buy Child Sexual Exploitation Human Trafficking Cross Border Human Trafficking Debauchery Missing Persons Pornography

Commune police often respond first to rape cases or other cases of severe child abuse. In the past (but less now) responding to child rape has not been systematic. Sometimes the police would take the child directly to an NGO centre and skip the judicial process altogether. Other times child victims were brought to an NGO centre first and the NGO centre assisted the child and family before bringing the child to the police. Before the UNICEF-led police training, police officers would automatically instruct the NGO to keep the child and typically no official investigation of the matter would take place. Now the police have been instructed to hand the case over to OSVY or DoSVY, depending on where the case originated, and leave it up to social workers to decide where to send the child for treatment, follow-up or other victim support services. There are no official statistics to support whether this reporting practice takes place or not, but NGOs such as ADHOC, the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre (CCWC) and LICADHO require all incidents of child rape referred to the organisation also be reported to police. Justice officials Civil and criminal procedure codes were adopted and came into force only in 2007, and other fundamental laws are still being developed. There is not yet a juvenile justice system, and there are 265 judges and prosecutors in Cambodia, many with no legal background as they were appointed soon after the collapse of the Khmer Rouge. There are only 392 practicing lawyers in Cambodia - 1 per 36,600 people – and they are unevenly distributed across the country. Many justice professionals have received little or no training on child rights and protection and are not familiar with the national laws and international standards that should be applied to cases involving children. The result is that alternatives to imprisonment are rarely considered, even though they are supported by national laws, and children are often treated and sentenced as adults. Inadequate birth registration makes it difficult to determine the age of children in contact with the law and the lack of a criminal justice database make tracking children through the legal system difficult.








The Ministry of Justice has run training sessions on juvenile justice and child-friendly procedures for 215 police, prosecutors, judges and social workers; and 176 judges and prosecutors have been trained on child rights and protection. Approximately 65 per cent of children in the prisons covered by UNICEF-supported actions are assessed and monitored by government social workers and benefit from counselling, non-formal education, and vocational training. Among those released, more than 75 per cent benefit from follow-up and 80 other victim support services from social workers. Role in reporting violence against children The primary function of justice officials is to “Prepare and disseminate the statistics of judicial and prosecution 81 affairs, and to prepare and manage the data system and development of the ministry.” This function also includes reporting on children that are detained, prosecuted, and tried in the justice system. A study lead by Legal Aid Cambodia (LAC) said that children reported excessive pre-trial detention took place in a majority of prisons visited. “In all but one of the prisons, more than 45 per cent of the juveniles interviewed reported that they had been detained beyond the legal time limit. Yet officials from the prisons and courts reported a far 82 lower level of excessive detention.” Justice professionals reported that a lack of available resources to ensure efficient running of the courts leading to delays and a lack of access to information on cases. In addition, some officials reported that they were subject to pressure from society and government to detain suspects in prison pending their trials, 83 regardless of the length of pre-trial detention. Though capacity is generally low and the justice system is not independent, UNICEF has supported the MoJ in strengthening legal standards and the training of official to consider the rights of children when handling cases involving them, either as suspects, witnesses or victims. A juvenile justice law, complying with international standards, has been drafted with UNICEF's assistance by the Cambodian National Council for Children (CNCC), and is being finalised by the Ministry of Justice before 84 forwarding to the legislature for adoption. Civil society interventions Cambodian-based NGOs (national and international) are responding to violence against children in areas that State social service providers are unable to reach. Child and women victims of physical and sexual violence often contact NGOs for assistance with filing a complaint with the prosecutor and other legal services. The following NGOs mentioned are not an exhaustive list of NGOs that work with child and women victims of violence, but have either partnered with UNICEF in the past, or were repeatedly identified by the community in FGDs and interviews as organisations that are active in child rights and reporting functions. For example, LICADHO and ADHOC have the policy to report child violence to the police and encourage the child to seek medical attention even if he or she does not want to. Both organisations also have human rights monitors also visit children in prisons and detention centres to offer basic social services such as healthcare and blankets. During this time the monitors also respond to a detained child’s complaints of violence, if there is one, and follows-up with the prison warden to advise on the child’s right to not be violated and to suggest ways to prevent the incident from reoccurring. Other NGOs such as Friends-Mith Samlanh have social workers that meet children living or working on the street at designated areas and counsel them on drug abuse, HIV/AIDS. The children are provided contact phone numbers to the organisation’s social workers who respond to phone calls 24/7 and will meet the child at any point in the city to provide basic social services such as taking the child to receive medical treatment, filing a complaint with the police, or finding shelter for the night. In the meantime, other NGOs such as the Rural Economic Development Association (REDA) have social workers that meet the needs of orphaned and vulnerable children, particularly those affected by HIV/AIDS. As in most cases it is in the best interest of the child to avoid institutionalisation and NGOs such as this one offers material support such as rice or money to send the children to school and also check on the living conditions of children in monitoring for abuse and neglect. Other organisations work with children who have been trafficked (CCPCR) or have been identified as at risk to abuse. Sometimes the organization offers long-term shelter, psychosocial counselling, basic education, and vocational training.

United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF Cambodia Child Protection: Justice for Children: Fact sheet, Phnom Penh, 2007. Articles 7 and 10. 82 Legal Aid Cambodia. (March 2006). Securing Children's Rights in Cambodia: A Comparative Research on Juvenile Justice. Children Rights International Journal, (Preliminary Report), p.1. 83 Ibid., p.1. 84 United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF Cambodia Child Protection: Justice for Children: Fact sheet, Phnom Penh, 2007.
81 80



Still others work to build the capacity of the community to protect children and to effectively report and followup on child abuse cases (Chap-Dai – Joining Hands – Coalition). Although NGOs are filling a gap in the social services sector, they too can only cater to a small proportion of those in need. Therefore, there are some villages with no I/NGO support and no State support, which makes reporting violence against children in these areas haphazard and non-existent. Helplines In Cambodia there are two operational child helplines. This mechanism was strongly recommended and praised in the UNSG World Report (2006), in which helplines were identified as ways that children can safely report violence. The challenge will be to ensure that all provinces have access to the payphones, and that they are placed in areas that are not too conspicuous. Such a mechanism is important as fear of more violence is one reason that prevents children in particular from reporting violence, said children and village chiefs in FGDs. National Child Helpline In May 2007 a National Child Helpline Steering Committee was spearheaded by Chab Dai (Joining Hands) 85 Coalition and coordinated by many local NGOs and UN agencies, piloted a national hotline for a year during 86 which time 60 cases of violence against children was referred to LICADHO for legal assistance. After the pilot and needs assessment, the Steering Committee collaborated with the Ministry of Post & Telecommunications to obtain a free three-digit phone number that is easy for children to remember and can be used across all mobile phone networks. Child Helpline International (CHI), which operates 90 helplines in 79 countries, is providing technical assistance to the Steering Committee to plan and establish a national Child Helpline in 2008. Childsafe Helpline ChildSafe, operated by Friends International - Mith Samlanh, is not free of charge to the public, but children who use it are reimbursed by the organisation. Although any child can use it to report violence it is mainly used by children working and living on the street to reach a social worker within the organisation. In the Friends network, the members, children working and living on the street, neighbours and travellers use the ChildSafe helpline to report, or prevent violence.

The National Child Helpline is a coordinated effort between several NGOs and UN agencies. The following form part of the Steering Committee: Child Helpline International, Save the Children-Australia, UNICEF, World Vision, Chab Dai Coalition, United Nations Interagency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region, Plan, Destiny Rescue, Action pour Les Enfants, and International Justice Mission. 86 Interview with Sworn, Helen, Director, Chab Dai (Joining Hands) Coalition, Phnom Penh, 24 October 2007.



RECOMMENDATIONS: SYSTEMS Central, local government, media and police • Everyone needs to be involved. Teachers, health and social workers need to be equipped with the skills to recognise when children are being subjected to violence and to know how to respond – a referral service for case follow up is often necessary. The role of NGOs, communities and community groups, religious leaders and others is also essential. The media has a responsibility to play in helping to shape attitudes towards violence, and to ensure that child victims of violence are not stigmatised or put further at risk by 87 sensational or insensitive coverage of their cases. • Establish better data collection systems (that include all forms of violence against children) which can be input into the commune-level database. Ensure that each commune has one computer and that one person is responsible for data entry. This will increase the State’s and communities’ awareness of the levels and types of violence against children and motivate positive behaviour change. • On the central level – establish a centralised database to enable the collecting of comprehensive and systematic data on child abuse, exploitation and maltreatment so that such information is not scattered among various government departments such as the district or provincial social affairs offices, hospitals, police agencies and NGOs. • Establish a national research agenda in the context of agreed international indicators, and with particular reference to vulnerable subgroups. Weaknesses in data collection and collation particularly affect the 88 most disadvantaged groups of children who are often missed by social welfare organisations. • Use behaviour change communication (BCC) programmes to address the societal norm that domestic violence is a private family matter and children need physical punishment to create a culture of nonviolence and a sustained and informed demand for reliable, safe reporting mechanisms that are supported by quality victim support services. • Conduct an in-depth cost and benefit analysis on the trade off that increased government spending on social services and the impact it would have on the economy, child rights, and meeting the MDGs. Use the results for advocacy on all levels of government. • The Ministry of Interior and/or Ministry of Justice should issue definitions on “serious” and “non-serious” violence, and the appropriate response to each category. All police and local authorities should be required to adhere to the definitions and the prescribed actions when responding to cases. • Establish a centralised database. Researchers struggle to collect comprehensive and systematic data, often because data on child abuse, exploitation and maltreatment, when collected and recorded at all, is scattered among various government departments, local welfare authorities, hospitals, police officials and 89 voluntary organisations. • Develop and implement systematic national data collection and research: This refers to the urgent need to improve data collection and information systems by 2009, in the context of a national research agenda and agreed international indicators, and with particular reference to vulnerable subgroups. . Weaknesses in data collection and collation particularly affect the most disadvantaged groups of children who are often 90 missed by social welfare organisations. • Each level of Government should review existing reporting systems, with the involvement in this review of children or young adults with recent experience of child protection services. Health workers  The Ministry of Health is not required by the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims to report serious cases of child abuse to prosecutors because the Ministry is not mandated with the social welfare of children. However, paediatricians are concerned with the well-being of children and should be required to refer non-serious cases of abuse to social workers; and serious cases of abuse to the judiciary police.

United Nations Children’s Fund, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Child Protection, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005, p. 11. Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, ‘The 12 Overarching Recommendations: No.11’, New York, 2007. 89 Ibid., p.11. 90 Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, ‘The 12 Overarching Recommendations: No.11’, New York, 2007.
88 87



Child victims of sexual violence will most likely have a wide range of treatment needs, including prophylaxis to prevent STIs such as HIV. Health workers should be meted the responsibility to prioritise the child’s physical health and to refer the child for psychosocial support services and child welfare and protection services. They should be trained to detect violence and to document and report incidents of violence. Incidents of violence detected outside the health sector should be referred to health worker for 91 proper assessment and care. Ensure that paediatricians have the resources to carry out the referral and reporting function with little or no misidentifications of child abuse. Such resources and capacity building can include: • Medical training to positively identify indications of physical, psychological, and sexual violence against children 99 per cent of the time. • Guidelines on which agency to refer the child to according to the seriousness of the case. • Training on interviewing techniques to assess the parents’ account of the child’s injuries compared to the physical evidence of the injuries, and account for anomalies. • Standardised forms to write an official medical opinion as to why the child has been identified as a victim of violence; and a clear line of reporting and follow up with the referral agency on the status of the case. • Legal protection from lawsuits in the case of misidentification. • Transportation and other material support for paediatricians who have mastered the above competencies to train medical workers in the commune health departments. In regards to the Document for Sexual Abuse Examination, the following action points would strengthen the availability, accuracy, and prosecutor confidence in the form such as the establishment of: • A standardised low fee set by the Ministry of Health for the exam, and a waiver for victims of sexual assault who cannot afford to pay. • Requirements that hospitals disclose the fee and indicate whether the victim incurred additional costs for copies. • A focal point within the Department of Hospital Services at the Ministry of Health to receive and follow-up on complaints about the quality and process of the sexual abuse forensic exam. • Basic guidelines on how to fill out the form, provide victim support, and address cases of boy victims of rape. • Opportunities for participants to share experiences, lessons learned and best practices on a quarterly basis. In the future, district referral hospitals should be trained and authorised to do forensic exam, while the Forensic Committees reviews the form and provides an official signature.

Social workers • Train social workers on case management and linking child victims to relevant governmental agencies and non-governmental agencies. Once social workers receive a report of violence, they should provide counselling to child victims and their families, organise the community to be advocates for children – reporting abuse when the family will not, and monitoring and evaluation of the development of cases. • Support the establishment of the impending School of Social Work at the Royal University of Phnom Penh. Ensure that it admits and provides scholarship to students who reflect the diverse needs of the nation – i.e. young women and poor students. • Advocate with the Council of Ministers to allocate more money to support the training of existing social workers, recruit and train new social workers, pay a living wage to all social workers, and provide finances to the Ministry of Social Services to support service delivery such as transportation stipends for visits to children’s homes, subsidising medical care for children who have experienced violence and cannot afford to see a healthcare worker; and supporting existing laws that require social workers to report violence against children by ensuring that the social worker has and understands his or her clear mandate to report, refer, and otherwise respond to reports of violence against children. Justice officials • The Ministry of Justice should take steps to ensure all courts have access to, and training on, the 2005 Guideline on Policies Implementation of the existing National and International Law related to Juvenile Justice. • The authorities should take steps to monitor implementation of the law to ensure compliance. • Governments should develop processes that are child-sensitive so that child victims of violence are not subjected to multiple interviews and examinations, possibly re-traumatising the child. Court processes

Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Children’s Fund, Handbook for Parliamentarians N° 13: Eliminating Violence against Children, IPU-UNICEF, New York, 2007, p.34.



should be respectful of children’s privacy and ensure that child witnesses are not subjected to extended court proceedings. The stress of court proceedings can be reduced, for example, by videotaping evidence, using screens in the courtroom, and offering witness-preparation programmes and access to 92 child-friendly legal support. Official and safe mechanisms to report violence against children in detention should be established and children who make a report should receive extra protection during the investigation.

Anti-trafficking • Strengthen local capacity through communication activities Communication initiatives should equip the affected parents/primary caregivers, health workers, teachers, police officers, social workers, children and youth groups and other relevant partners with the knowledge, authority and motivation to identify and 93 respond to trafficking. • Advocate with the community, local governments, police and law enforcement agencies to strengthen child protection mechanisms for reporting suspected or confirmed cases of trafficking. • Support legal mechanisms and systems that allow communities to quickly report cases of child abuse, 94 trafficking or violence.

Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Children’s Fund, Handbook for Parliamentarians N° 13: Eliminating Violence against Children, IPU-UNICEF, New York, 2007, p. 17. 93 Woods, Lisa, Gilbert, Ulrike, & Stuart, Teresa, Behaviour Change Communication in Emergencies: A toolkit, UNICEF ROSA, Kathmandu, 2006, p. 146. 94 Ibid., p. 146.



SETTINGS Violence against children takes place at home and in the community which includes any space used or occupied by children other than homes, schools, institutions, and organised workplaces. These include the neighbourhoods, streets, parks and playgrounds, fields, markets and places that children and young people grow up. The State is obliged to protect children from violence and provide reporting mechanisms in all settings, including alternative living situations such as residential care, prisons and detention centres. Each sub-section under “Settings” aims to cover the background and context of violence in which children experience it, contributory factors and risks, prevalence identified in prior and current research, the impacts on children and others, and the necessary directions for preventive action and for response (a complete reporting mechanism) to violence. “Sexual abuse, physical and psychological violence, and sexual harassment are forms of violence which occur in all settings. In most societies, sexual abuse of girls and boys is most common within the home or is committed by a person known to the family. But sexual violence also occurs in schools and other educational settings, by peers and teachers alike. [Such violence] is rife against children in closed workplaces, such as domestic labourers employed in private households. It also takes place in institutions and in the community, at the hands people known to the victim and others. Girls suffer considerably more sexual violence than boys, and their greater vulnerability to violence in many settings is in large part a product of the influence of genderbased power relations within society. At the same time, boys are more likely to be the victims of homicide and 95 particularly of violence involving weapons” Findings from field and desk reviews found that reporting mechanisms vary from setting-to-setting but overall children in Cambodia lack safe and easy ways to report violence. Current and draft legislation on domestic violence, corporal punishment in school, and minimum standards on alternative care lack clear definitions of what constitutes violence against children and in most cases do not outline a clear process for children or third-parties to report current violence or monitor the situation of children in the setting for potential violence and other child rights abuse. HOME A basic assumption of the Convention on the Rights of the Child is that the “Family is the natural environment 96 for the growth and well-being of all its members.” But families can be dangerous places for children and in particular for babies and young children. The prevalence of violence against children by parents and other close family members – physical, sexual and psychological violence, as well as deliberate neglect – has only begun to be acknowledged and documented. Challenging violence against children is most difficult in the context of the family in all its forms. There is a reluctance to intervene in what is still perceived in most societies as a ‘private’ sphere. But human rights to full respect for human dignity and physical integrity – children’s and adults’ equal rights – and State obligations to uphold these rights do not stop at the door of the 97 family home. In Cambodia violence in the home stems from many reasons. In a State where about 50 per cent of the child population works, a common household conflict is occurs between children who want to go to school and parents who would rather them work is a common cause of violence in the home, according to FGDs. An 11-year-old girl reported frustration with the official response to her complaint from the authorities in her village on this issue. Her aunt hits her if she doesn’t do housework or help in the shop. She tells her friends and the village chief; he comes to the house and explains that she needs to go to school and that the aunt should stop fighting her. The girl, who is also an orphan, said that the aunt stops for only two or three 98 days and starts again. Violence against women at home According to the Cambodian Demographic and Health Survey (2000), 23 per cent of women from 15- to 4999 years old that had ever been married had experienced violence in their families. LICADHO notes that “Women who came of age during the Khmer Rouge period (those now in the 36- to 50-year-old age bracket)

95 96

Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence Against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, p.7. Ibid., p.47. 97 Ibid., p. 47. 98 FGD, Children, Kay Trabeck, 27 September 2007. 99 Violence against Women: A Baseline Survey: Final report Cambodia 2005, GTZ/UNIFEM/CIDA/EWMI/USAID, Phnom Penh, p. 7.



reported significantly higher rates of domestic abuse.” Although violence against women is not direct physical violence against children, it is a form of psychological violence as children live in fear for their mother’s safety, and sometimes their own. Violence in the home is also a factor in children missing school. “About 20 per cent of the women who reported abuse said that their children had missed school from five to 20 times during the previous year due to domestic violence. About 7 per cent said their children missed school 20 or more times during this period. A much higher proportion of this sub-sample – 68 per cent of the men and 58 per cent of the women – said their children had missed school from one to five times during the last 101 year.” Psychological violence against children at home When parents routinely physically fight each other in front of children or in close proximity to a child, that child will most likely experience psychological violence and impaired emotional or cognitive development. “Standard definitions are lacking, and little is known about the global extent of this form of violence against children except that it frequently accompanies other forms: A strong coexistence between psychological and 102 physical violence against children in violent households has been established.” One 12-year-old boy said that his aunt and uncle fight all of the time, in spite of the commune chief’s counselling. “I live with my aunt, and there is no one to take care of me, and I feel scared, and I don’t feel 103 good,” he said. “I tell the commune chief and he comes to the house to tell them to stop, but they still fight.” In the violent family setting, “There is constant fear and anxiety caused by the anticipation of violence; pain, humiliation and fear during its enactment; and, in older age groups, the loneliness of parental rejection, 104 distrust, and at times self-disgust. Physical violence against children at home Hitting children to warrant obedience has often been seen as an appropriate way to discipline. In Cambodia there are no laws that expressly forbid hitting children and studies have shown that it is common. In the Cambodia National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey (2004), 51 per cent of boys and 36 per cent of girls report having been beaten by their parents; 82 per cent of girls and 81 per cent of boys report having seen other children being beaten by their parents; and 26 per cent of children reported that domestic violence had 105 occurred in their families over the previous 30 days. Internal factors that put children more at risk to violence include the quality of family relationships or the characteristics of individual family members (alcoholism, drug abuse, gambling, and poor self control). “Dysfunctional family relationships and poor 106 parent–child interactions have a critical bearing on whether children experience violence in the home.” Other factors relate to the individual attributes of the child such as age, gender, and the roles assigned to the 107 family members. Reporting processes The self-report of violence took on different forms for children in communes with no community-based reporting systems versus those in communes with such systems. The former group of children said in FGDs that they experienced a high level of violence at home, and didn’t receive much support from local officials if they made a report of violence; while some did not bother to make a report at all due to a lack of confidence in the system. All children interviewed reported that their peers provided a safe way to pass on reports of violence to adults because their friends could tell an adult while the abused child’s involvement in the report remained anonymous. Teachers also played a prominent but unofficial role in reporting domestic violence against children. Teachers said in FGDs that in some cases they see that the child is withdrawn, missing many days at school or has injuries to the body. In either case the teachers said that they refer the case of suspected violence to the school director, local authorities (i.e. village or commune chief), the WCFP, CWCC, or sometimes make a visit to the child’s home.


Ibid., p. 7. Ibid., p. 7. 102 Dube, S.R., et al. (2002). Exposure to Abuse, Neglect, and Household Dysfunction among Adults Who Witnessed Intimate Partner Violence as Children: Implications for Health and Social Services, Violence and Victims, 17(1), 3-17, as cited in the ‘World Report on Violence against Children,’ United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence against Children,’ Geneva, 2006, p. 61. 103 FGD, Children, Brasath Commune, 3 October 2007. 104 Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, p. 61. 105 The Royal Government of Cambodia/Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport (MoEYS). (2004). The Cambodia National Youth Risk Behaviour Survey, as cited in ‘Stop Violence against Us Now!’ Summary Report I, Tearfund (Cambodia), Phnom Penh, 2004. 106 Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, p.67. 107 FGD, Village Chiefs, Koy Tbeng Village, 27 September 2007.
101 100



In FGDs responses in both Svay Rieng and Prevy Veng provinces revealed that reporting on violence against children in rural communes lacked regularity as many villagers do not have phones or easy access to the commune police. Reporting took the form of the self-report of child victims (or friends of the child victim), relatives, neighbours, or by observation of the authorities. Villagers walked or rode a bicycle or motorbike and used a payphone or radio (where available), to report violence to the village chief or commune chief/police. If the violence was deemed not serious, meaning no blood or visible injuries, an arrest is not made although the authorities may require the perpetrator to sign a form promising not to commit the act again. If the violence reoccurs, the chief and community authorities approach the house with the promissory note, and carry out whatever stipulations were set forth in the agreement (unless the wife asks that the husband not be arrested, which commonly happens). Such agreements are filed in the commune office and some communes use them for planning advocacy and educational activities in the community. Significant barriers to reporting violence against children are that most Cambodians don't feel they should intervene in another family’s arguments' and this feeling extends to the police. Suffering is valued over bringing shame and dishonour to yourself or your family. Children are expected to endure hardship rather than 108 seek help from outside of the family. An example of this societal norm is one that a 12-year-old girl who participated in a FGD said that her friend’s sister accused him of stealing money that she keeps hidden. The father beat the boy until he was in a coma but no one came to help him. She said the boy wasn’t taken to the hospital but instead recovered at home. When asked why she didn’t ask anyone for help she said: I didn’t tell anyone because everyone knows that the children are being beat. Similarly an 11-year-old from the same commune said she knows of routine physical violence against his friend in which no adults intervene. The 9year-old neighbour [friend] wanted his father to buy something but his father refused. Instead he got an electric cord or a belt to beat him [and his 13-year-old brother]. It happens every time the parents think the children do something wrong: The victim's brother tries to stop the father but the father beats the brother too, 109 and no adults intervene, she added. Another barrier is the attitudes of some authorities, women, and children who accept violence as an appropriate way to discipline: In one commune two village chiefs said that children caused violence against themselves by not obeying adults; and that physical punishment was necessary in order to make children grow up to be good people. This view on corporal punishment undoubtedly influenced the village authorities conclusion that violence the community was not a problem; even though the children said that they experienced a lot of violence, and said that if people hear or see violence happening to children they just walk by. Some women also believe that they deserve the domestic violence because they did violence to someone 110 else in a previous life. Schools Violence against children in schools takes on many forms. Teachers may beat children if they misbehave or haven’t done their homework or schoolwork properly, or may shout at students or call them names. Youth violence, including bullying, sexual assault, and gang violence is also a growing concern. Although data and information on violence in schools is scarce and studies specifically related to violence against children in school have only been conducted in a few countries, anecdotal evidence indicates the problem is 111 widespread. In the 2005 Tearfund study (1,314 children, 671 girls and 639 boys) nearly 24.1 per cent of girls and 34.7 per cent of boys said that they had been beaten by their teacher in school, although underreporting is prevalent because of a lack of safe and confidential reporting mechanisms, and children’s acceptance of corporal punishment as appropriate discipline. Reporting processes The Ministry of Education, Youth, and Sports (MoEYS) has oversight over the education and sports sectors in Cambodia. The Ministry of Education formally outlawed punishment in schools in 2006 with an internal regulation that stated, “Penalties of all forms imposed on pupils at the educational establishments nationwide shall be totally prohibited. Those penalties include: Beating, kneeling down, standing under the sun. Emotional

Miles, G., Stop Violence Against Us! Summary Report I, Tearfund (Cambodia) 2005, Phnom Penh, p. 8. FGD, Children, Braseth Commune, 3 October 2007. 110 FGD, Commune Council for Women and Children, Cheoung Phnom Commune, 1 October 2007. 111 Child Rights Information Network, UN’s Regional Consultation on Violence Against Children Concludes, UNICEF EAPRO, 2005, Bangkok.
109 108



penalties include asking pupils to write [an] entire lesson for many times in excess of his/her capacity to do so, 112 causing mental suffering, causing emotional sadness in mind, or causing humiliation....” Some schools have counsellor, girl counsellors or teachers in charge of women’s affairs. In FGDs teachers said that students are aware of the role these teachers play in reporting violence or other problems and can 113 confidentially report incidents that occur at school or homes. In other schools children representatives are trained to accept reports of violence from their peers and pass the report on to teachers or another trusted 114 result. Children do not report cases of violence at home to teachers, teachers said in a FGD. A friend or classmate tells the teacher who passes the information on to the relevant authorities – depending on whether 115 the violence occurred at home or at school. Teachers went on to say that an official reporting mechanism in school would allow children to safely report violence at home if it was set up in a way that the parents didn’t know how and where the report was made. In one FGD a teacher said that a father of some students from the school routinely gets drunk and beats his children. The teacher went to have a discussion with him and the father didn’t say anything when they teacher was there, but later took a wooden stick and beat the children 116 afterwards. This underscores the need for confidential reporting mechanism to protect children from revictimisation during the reporting system. The potential for an official mechanism to report violence against children is provided in the draft Education Law which allows children and parents to complain if a child experiences violence or other child rights abuse at school “Parents or guardians, learners and educational personnel, whose rights specified in this law, are violated, have the right to request or complain to the competent educational authority at different levels as 117 well as to the court.” However, a specific process or focal person has not been established to facilitate safe and confidential reporting as the law states that “The Ministry in charge of Education shall issue 118 regulations on procedures for requests, complaints and solutions.” Thus children still lack a clear process to make a complaint of violence that may occur in schools. Workplaces According to Understanding Children's Work in Cambodia (2006), 52 per cent of children from 7- to 14-year old – more than 1.4 million children – were 119 economically active in 2001. UNICEF does not oppose work that children perform at home, on the family farm or for a family business – as long as that work is not a danger to their health and wellbeing, and doesn’t prevent them from going to 120 school and enjoying childhood activities. Yet in Cambodia more than 250,000 children from 15- to 17-years-old are working in seven of the 16 nationally-identified hazardous sectors (e.g. portering, domestic work, rubbish picking, rubber and tobacco plantation, brick-making, salt production, begging) or are working 43 plus hours per week. Incidentally the secondary school net 121 enrolment ratio is 50.4 per cent.

The TBP Support Project
  The ILO-IPEC and MoLVT project focuses specifically on child labour in the following target sectors and geographical areas: • Child domestic workers, Phnom Penh • Children working in salt production and fisheries, Kampot • Children working in fisheries, Kep • Children working in fisheries, Sihanoukville • Children working in rubber plantations and brick making, Kampong Cham • Children working in brick making, Siem Reap • Child porters, Banteay Meanchey

The Royal Government of Cambodia/Ministry of Education, Youth & Sports No: 922, (2006 March 16). State Minister, Minister of Education, Youth & Sports to Director of Provincial/Municipal Department of Education, Youth and Sports, Phnom Penh, 2006. 113 FGD, Teachers (22), Banteay Primary School, 27 September 2007. 114 FGD, Teachers (22), Banteay Primary School, 27 September 2007. 115 FGD, Teachers (20), Check Commune, 28 September 2007. 116 FGD, Teachers (22), Banteay Primary School, 27 September 2007. 117 The Royal Government of Cambodia, Draft Education Law, Article 40, Phnom Penh, 2007. 118 Ibid., Article 40. 119 The Cambodia Labour Law sets a general minimum working age at 15 years, but allows children aged 12-14 years to perform “light” work that is not hazardous to their health or interfere with their schooling. Cambodia’s Labour Law sets the minimum allowable age for any kind of employment or work which by its nature could be hazardous to the health, safety, or morality at 18 years. Therefore, for a complete estimate of child labour in accordance with national legislation, it is necessary to look at all below age workers (all economically active 7-11 year-olds), all economically active 12-14 year-olds except those in light work, and all 15-17 year olds in hazardous work or worst forms of work (UCW, pp. 15-16). 120 United Nations Children’s Fund, Child Protection Sheets: Child labour, 2007, p. 15. 121 United Nations Children’s Fund, A Report Card on Gender Parity and Primary Education: Number 2, UNICEF, New York, 2005.



In another commune, the village chief said that a girl’s parents forced her to quit school and work as a domestic labourer in Thailand to support the family. But it was unsafe migration and she ended up in 122 prostitution. She came back only once. In this same village the chief said other parents threaten the children and physically hit them to make work. He said this is most common during harvest season; parents 123 stop children from attending school to work. Child labour is often viewed as a necessity because of widespread poverty in Cambodia, but it also leaves children open to violence and places them in situations where they have no way to report or escape violence. Children living in urban centres may not have the money to pay the unofficial school fees so they resort to working on the streets, in the service sector, or in other employment. Rural poverty often results in parents resorting to risky coping mechanisms such as allowing their children to work in unregulated sectors such as agriculture where they are exposed to harmful pesticides, or allowing them to migrate internally and externally. For example, an estimated 2,000 children cross the border into Thailand each day to do manual labour or beg. These children can easily become involved in exploitative labour, trafficking, and violence by law 124 enforcement officials if they have unclear immigration status. The Ministry of Labour and Vocational Training (MoLVT) has the mission to lead and manage all labour and vocational training issues in Cambodia and enforcing the child labour provisions set forth in the Labour Law (1997) which indicate that children must be 15-years old to engage in wage labour; at least 18-years-old to engage in hazardous labour; and that children can engage in light labour for pay if they are at least 12-years125 old and the work doesn’t interfere with their safety, morals, school or vocational training. The Department 126 of Child Labour (DoCL) has a technical and advisory function and supports integration of child labour issues across government, specifically to:      Develop policies, laws and regulations concerning child labour. Implement State policies, international conventions and treaties concerning child labour, especially the worst forms of child labour. Monitor the implementation of the National Plan of Action on the Elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour and the international conventions concerning child labour. Cooperate and coordinate with ministries, UN agencies, institutions, I/NGOs to address child labourrelated issues. Collaborating, implementing and evaluating with partner ministries, institutions, NGOs and International Organizations, the projects and programmes on the elimination of child labour.

Reporting processes Although preventing children from attending school is considered a “fault” under the Law on Marriage and Family, the same type of labour exploitation was reported from commune-to-commune: The parents sometimes push the children to do work, traffic girls for commercial sexual exploitation (CSE), and push the child to work without pay. Sometimes children work outside and the parents take the money and do not give 127 the children anything. The Ministry has tasked labour inspectors to monitor and report child labour violations in some private sector employers; however, State oversight and ability to monitor and respond to reports of violence against children on the job is weak as most children work in the informal sector or for their family farm or business. INSTITUTIONS Violence against children in care and justice systems is legitimised by long-held attitudes and behaviours, and failures in both law and its implementation. At the time when the establishment of care institutions for children in disadvantaged and marginal groups was a preferred social policy, corporal punishment was almost universally endorsed for the discipline and control of unruly children. This effectively meant that institutionalised children were exposed to a brutal regime and to frequent violence. In all regions, by omission

122 123

FGD, Village Chiefs, Svay Check Commune, 27 September 2007. FGD, Village Chiefs, Svay Check Commune, 27 September 2007. 124 United Nations Children’s Fund, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Child Protection, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005, p. 10 125 The Royal Government of Cambodia, Labour Law, Article(s) 178, 179, 180, 1997. 126 The former Child Labour Unit (CLU) now under the MLVT. 127 Check Commune, 28 September 2007.



or commission, this situation still prevails. While not all youth in detention come from disadvantaged groups, 128 street youth are consistently over represented in the juvenile justice system. The perception of street children as a threat rather than as children in need of special protection is also reflected in much national legislation which still considers vagrancy as an offence in itself. This ultimately 129 results in increased numbers of children being in conflict with the law. The absence of national standards and statistics on foster care, and the informal system of foster care, the lack of established mechanisms to review, monitor and follow up on the placement of children are issues that hinder children from reporting violence. Some studies have found that violence in residential institutions is six times higher than violence in foster care, and that children in group care are almost four times more likely to experience sexual abuse than 130 children in family-based care. Residential care Marginalised children or children from less privileged environments often come into contact with child 131 institutions. Violence frequently occurs in detention centres, orphanages and other institutions. In Cambodia 132 a disproportionate number of children placed in institutions are from families living in abject poverty: Some children’s parents may believe that they are too poor to raise their children, or the relatives of orphaned/abandoned children lack the material resources to provide kinship care. In 2007 an estimated 8,666 Cambodian children were registered as living in residential care: 44 per cent were placed due to poverty, 39 per cent because of orphanhood, and 9 per cent were abandoned. Reporting processes Residential care facilities for children are monitored by the Child Welfare Department of MoSVY. The Prakas on Minimum Standards on Residential Care for Children (2006) outline management, monitoring and reporting guidelines for centres. Management and staff of the facility are supposed to ensure that children are informed of their rights and procedures to make a complaint and establish an incident management plan for handling 133 any allegations or suspicions of misconduct toward children is established by the facility. Facilities are supposed to appoint an external Case Management Officer to ensure that the child who makes a complaint is protected from harm when filing a complaint or taking legal action. However, recent UNICEF studies show that 91 per cent of alternative care institutions have no written principles on complaints procedures (which should include reporting mechanisms) in place. Thus, children in alternative care institutions have no means to report physical, sexual, or psychological violence – and although institutions are required by law to establish reporting mechanisms – they have failed to do so for numerous reasons: Human and financial capacity being the primary ones. Furthermore, when children are abandoned or orphaned there is no set procedure for their placement in kinship or residential care, and a general absence of accurate national standards and statistics on foster care and adoption. There is also there no established mechanism to review, monitor and follow up on the placement of children, which leaves OVCs vulnerable to trafficking and other forms of exploitation, particularly if they have not been registered at birth. Prisons or detention centres Children in conflict with the law have little means of reporting violence that occurs while they are detained or incarcerated, mostly in adult prisons. Maltreatment of detained children and youth in the form of inhumane and unsanitary living conditions has been reported in many countries, including Cambodia. In spite of legal prohibitions, children and youth are not always separated from adults, making them vulnerable to violence and 134 abuse by fellow inmates. This is the situation in Cambodia where as of August 2007, there were 588 minors in detention – 25 per cent of them being held pending a trial, and roughly 50 per cent housed in adult prisons. A juvenile justice law, complying with international standards, has been drafted by the Cambodian National 135 Council for Children and is being finalised by the Ministry of Justice.

128 129

Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, pp. 180-181. United Nations Children’s Fund, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Child Protection, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005, p.20 130 Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, pp.181-183. 131 United Nations Children’s Fund, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Child Protection, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005, p. 9. 132 The Royal Government of Cambodia/MoSVY Alternative Care database 2007. 133 The Royal Government of Cambodia/Prakas on Minimum Standards on Residential Care for Children, (2006) (Article 7). 134 United Nations Children’s Fund, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Child Protection, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005, p.10. 135 United Nations Children’s Fund, Child Protection: Working toward justice for children, UNICEF Cambodia, Phnom Penh, 2007.



Reporting processes There are currently no official reporting mechanisms in prisons with which children can report incidents of violence to their supervisors or the prison warden. Interviews with human rights organisations said that children commonly report violence to their parents (who are allowed to visit twice per month) or to their attorneys. Human rights monitors from LICADHO or ADHOC also visit the child and sometimes receive reports of violence. The human rights monitor from LICADHO (Svay Rieng) said that in the past he received reports of violence from child prisoners, or staff would see evidence of physical abuse when they provide monthly healthcare service to the children. The monitor would discuss the reported case to the warden and advise on child protection; but since a change in administration has taken place, the organisation hasn’t 136 received any new reports of violence against children in prison this year. COMMUNITY The community is defined as any space used or occupied by children other than homes, schools, institutions, and organised workplaces. These include the neighbourhoods, streets, parks and playgrounds, shopping malls that children and young people grow up in. The community however is not only a physical space, but a social environment. Children are born and grow up under its framework of behaviours, attitudes, customs and beliefs and are thereby socialised through it to engage with the wider world, including learning how to deal with the network of relationships and institutions that provide the non-familial context of their lives. A child’s vulnerability to violence in the community increases with age and maturity and increased contacts with the 137 wider world. Streets In Phnom Penh there are, on a daily basis, 1,000-1,500 street children who have completely cut ties with their families and have made the streets their home. Depending on the definition and according to the figures accepted by UNICEF, there are between 10,000-20,000 street children working on the streets that have kept 138 ties with their families and return home either regularly or irregularly. Domestic violence; rural poverty that leads to urban migration and urban poverty which forces many children to work are some factors that contribute to children living and working on the streets. Gang violence According to the Cambodia 2007 Crime & Safety Report, there has been an increase in the number of youth gangs that operate in Phnom Penh … and the Cambodian Government has instructed the police to launch a 139 crack down on the gangs. All Cambodian children are subject to violence from street gangs but street children are particularly vulnerable to bullying by gangsters and are often coerced into committing crimes or 140 joining gangs for personal safety. Reporting processes The police – the official eyes and ears of the streets – are often perpetrators of violence against street children rather than trusted adults to which they report violence or turn to for help. According to the Street Profile (2006), 25 per cent (of the 100 street children surveyed) reported that they had problems with the police, not only for fighting, taking drugs, stealing, etc., but during the Municipality “Clean-Ups” where the city tries to rid Phnom Penh of children and families living and working on the streets by putting them into government 141 centres. As children living and working on the streets often don’t trust the authorities because of past experiences of poor treatment and other forms of marginalisation, research found that they commonly report violence to social workers who work for Friends - Mith Samlanh, which has an Outreach Team, or other NGO centres that didn’t participate in this study. The social workers meet the children on specific areas of the street and provide basic counselling. If children are abused or otherwise find themselves in a violent situation, they call the social

Interview with Mom Lida, Human Rights Monitor, LICADHO, Svay Rieng , 26 September 2007. United Nations Children’s Fund, Stop Violence Against Children in Communities, UNICEF Malaysia Fact Sheet. United Nations Children’s Fund, Statistics 2004, UNICEF Cambodia, Phnom Penh, 2007. 139 Overseas Advisory Council, Bureau of Diplomatic Security U.S. Department of State, Cambodia 2007 Crime & Safety Report: Overall safety situation, 2007, p.1. 140 Street Profile, 2006, Köstler, Alice (Ed.). Street Children Profile, Friends, Phnom Penh, 2006. 141 Ibid., p. 45.
137 138 136



worker on the Friends ChildSafe hotline for counselling or direct assistance. If requested, the social worker will 142 meet the child wherever he or she is, day or night, and respond to the child’s immediate needs. Many children also work and live on the streets in Neak Loeung, a busy transit town where goods and people from Viet Nam and the Southeastern provinces of Prey Veng and Svay Rieng, cross the Mekong by ferry. Sometimes children report violence to ferry workers and social workers from Damnok Toek - Goutte-d’eau, an NGO offering drop-in, residential and day-care, vocational training, medical services and social services to street children and those with special needs. The aforementioned reporting mechanisms available to street children are by no means exhaustive; however, Friends – Mith Samlanth and Goutt-d’eau are two NGOs that offer ways for street children to report violence and seek other social services. Aside from civil society, there is no official response to the needs of street children, which is a State obligation under the Convention.


Interview with Köstler, Alice, ChidlSafe Project Manager, Phnom Penh, 25 October 2007.



RECOMMENDATIONS: SETTINGS Home • Establish appropriate reporting, referral, and follow-up services to child victims and their families to prevent children from running away from home due to domestic violence. • Improved monitoring and reporting are essential. Much violence against children is hidden, making it difficult to secure commitments for change, let alone plan responses. The monitoring and reporting of violence, including services such as hotlines that allow children to report cases of violence are essential. Information that needs to be gathered and disaggregated by gender, age and ethnicity. • Work with the State to show a commitment to eradicating violence in the home even though it is often viewed as a private matter in which the government should not interfere. One part of that commitment should be shown in the legal frame-work: Violence against children needs to be prohibited by law – children should have at least the same legal protection from violence as adults, and the same access to 143 reporting mechanisms, referral, investigation, follow-up and judicial intervention if necessary. • Homes with known violent family members should be prioritised for the provision of radios so that children and women can easily call for help in case they are trapped in the house in a violent situation. Community • Ensure that reports of any investigations of violence against children are made public (while maintaining the right of the child victim/witness’ right to privacy) to build confidence in the system, and encourage children, relatives, and neighbours to report violence against children. • Village, commune authorities, and the Women and Children Focal Point, should involve children in the design of appropriate child-sensitive reporting mechanisms that are safe, confidential, and easy to access. • Expand peer education groups as children, teachers, and local authorities said in FGDs that children report violence to their friends first. Ensure that the peer educator knows which adult in the village or school to report the violence to and that they are not endangered in the process. • Ensure that complaints received from health professionals, teachers, schools, children, parents and legal guardians, NGOs, inter alia, receive a coordinated and multidisciplinary response that may or may not 144 involve law enforcement at the initial stages. • Require the mandatory reporting of child abuse. Properly implemented reporting systems help authorities to better understand the nature of violence suffered by children and to identify the most appropriate measures to tackle problems. Among UNICEF programme countries, mandatory reporting of child abuse 145 in 2003 existed only in the Philippines and Malaysia. • Supplement the surveillance of officially reported cases with population-based surveys that document exposure to childhood violence and its lifelong consequences. Similarly, true understanding of fatal violence against children can only be gained through comprehensive death registration, investigation and 146 reporting systems. • Under the direction of the Ministry of Interior, a special training should be conducted to educate police on the situation of children living and working on the streets, their rights to be protected from violence, and the police officer’s role in ensuring protection and other basic rights. The training should encourage a direct dialogue between police and children living and working on the streets. Schools • Address the acceptance of corporal punishment just as strongly as the administration of corporal punishment. Data from surveys revealed that nearly 24 per cent of girls and 35 per cent of boys report having been beaten by their teacher in school. “Children were mixed as to whether they thought it was 147 right or wrong but they seemed to agree that teachers have the right to beat children.” This widespread acceptance creates barriers to children (and adults) reporting violence as the first step to reporting is the identification of an act as violent. • The MoE should quickly establish the guidelines for the official reporting mechanism that the draft Education Law provides. Ensure that the guidelines are child friendly, systematic, and lead to the collection of statistics of violence against children at school.

143 144

Ibid., p. 10. Ibid., p. 14. 145 United Nations Children’s Fund, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Child Protection, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005, p.10. 146 Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, p.91. 147 Miles, G., Stop Violence Against Us! Summary Report I, 2005, Phnom Penh, p. 51.



Designate one (or two) teachers, depending on the size of the school, as focal points to receive reports of violence. Set up a place on the school grounds where children can visit these focal points without being seen, or set up a “ballot” box in the latrines or other private place where children can drop in complaints of violence in confidence. Set a deadline for responding to incidents of violence at school, and link the school-designated focal points with the WCFP of the CCWC or Commune Council to inform her of violence children report that is taking place at home. Establish boy and girl groups of peer educators who are trained to tell a designated adult any incidents of violence that their classmates report to them. Ensure that the students are trained, and protected from violence because of their role in the community reporting mechanism. Link the peer educators to the WCFP of each commune for support and guidance.

Workplaces • Establish confidential reporting mechanisms for children in workplaces including ombudspersons, hotlines, peer counselling groups, and/or direct access to a focal point in the Department of Child Labour. • Give child workers – in particular and child workers who have experienced violence on the job – information on confidential reporting mechanisms available to child labourer victims of violence on the job. In addition, parents should be provided information on compulsory education, any available financial assistance to formal and non-formal education alternatives, and vocational training programmes as an intervention and response mechanism to violence against children in the workplace. • Give child workers access to helplines, focal points, or ombudspersons to lodge formal complaints or to seek forms of victim support. • With child labour prevalent in many countries of the region, the working group on violence against children in work situations stressed the need for greater clarity on the meaning and characteristics of “violence in the workplace, especially in the informal sector.” They recommended the development of concrete protection procedures and more regulation of workplaces through the training of officials to ensure better 148 law enforcement and monitoring of abuses. Residential care institutions  All forms of alternative care involve risk for the child, including risk of further violence, exploitation and other violations of the child’s rights. It is therefore important that States register and regulate all forms of alternative care, with continuous monitoring of children’s placement and treatment, and with the full 149 participation of the child (UNSG).  The State should allocate the resources needed to implement the reporting procedures outlined in the Prakas on Minimum Standards on Residential Care for Children and the Policy on Alternative Care for Children, including the training of social workers to monitor the implementation of the reporting process, and increase the budget to hire additional personnel to ensure that State institutions have the capacity to establish and manage the Incident Management Plan outlined in the Prakas on Minimum Standards on Residential Care for Children and can establish effective and confidential reporting mechanisms.  Law enforcement be strengthened with respect to violence against children in residential care institutions ensuring adequate child-friendly procedures and mechanisms to deal with complaints of child abuse and 150 to provide children with prompt access to justice and to avoid impunity for offenders.  Urgently adopt a programme to strengthen and increase alternative care opportunities for children, inter alia through reinforcement of existing structures, improved training of staff and allocation of increased resources to allow State social workers to monitor and provide regular periodic review of placement of children in institutions establish formal procedure to guarantee the best interests of child in cases 151 placement, monitoring, reporting, investigation and follow-up on complaints of violence in all institutions.  Conduct a nationwide baseline study of the knowledge, skills, and beliefs on child violence and opinions of caregivers on what constitutes violence serious enough to be reported; create a training curriculum for all caregivers in residential care institutions from the evidence gained in the baseline study and conduct a training for all residential care institutions starting from those with the most capacity to the least. Ensure a budget for training of the trainers, and in-service training.  The MoSVY and relevant departments should set good criteria for the placement and care of children in institutions and for alternative care. Provide better training for caregivers, providers and managers to

UNICEF EAPRO, EAPRO Consultation Concludes: Violence is not inevitable. Retrieved 5 December 2007 from http://www.unicef.org/media/media_27417.html. 149 Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006, p. 87. 150 Paragraph(s) 43 CRC/C/15/ADD.128 (CRC, 2000). 151 Paragraph(s) 39 CRC/C/15/ADD.164 (CRC, 2001).



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understand child rights and for Cambodia to put in place better guidelines for registering, licensing, 152 accrediting and monitoring all state and private institutions. All institutions should be registered and subject to regular independent inspection/review of all institutions and formal alternative care placements, with a statutory duty on inspectors to hear directly from 153 children. All incidents of violence in schools, other institutions and alternative care should be recorded and centrally 154 reported.

Prisons and detention centres • Work toward an independent judiciary with judicial reform measures so that the reporting of the situation of children in conflict of the law is not affected by politics and corruption. • Collaborate with the Ministry of Justice to ensure that children are not detained or incarcerated with adult prisoners as per international norms and The Convention. • Establish complaint procedures for children in detentions and prisons that are safe and confidential. Such mechanisms can include a box in which children can lodge a complaint anonymously; or an ombudsperson within the prison that is responsible for receiving, investigating, and following-up on child abuse complaints. This person would also be responsible for the safety of the child while the investigation is ongoing and for a sufficient time (to be determined) thereafter. • Regularly monitor the levels of custodial sentencing for children – disaggregated by sex, age and ethnicity 155 – to inform rehabilitative responses.

UNICEF EAPRO, EAPRO Consultation Concludes: Violence is not inevitable. Retrieved 5 December 2007 from http://www.unicef.org/media/media_27417.html. 153 Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Children’s Fund, Handbook for Parliamentarians N° 13: Eliminating Violence against Children, IPU-UNICEF, New York, 2007, p. 28 154 Ibid., p. 28. 155 United Nations Children’s Fund, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Child Protection, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005, p.10.



CONCLUSION Reporting violence against children in Cambodia is not strong but mechanisms are improving through the efforts of the State, civil society, local authorities and concerned UN agencies. The State has showed that it is aware that reporting mechanisms for violence against children are insufficient and unclear with its recent promulgation of legislation, namely the draft Education Law, the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims, and the Policy on Alternative Care of Children. However, the laws and prakas do not have the resources needed to support the provisions given in legislation and in some cases lack clarity in reporting lines and procedures. Although the social work profession is sorely understaffed and underresourced, the initiative between the Royal University of Phnom Penh (RUPP) and University of Washington (USA) to educate several Cambodians at its School of Social Work, who will then return to train others at the RUPP is a positive development that will professionalise social work, increase the quality of service, and create an informed demand for child and family victim of violence support. Although none of these measures are perfect or comprehensive, they do provide a foundation to build a unified system for reporting child violence and responding to child victims. Drawing from the conclusions made by the Committee on the Rights of the Child, a comprehensive reporting mechanism cannot stop with a call for help. A call for help inadequately answered is akin to no call at all. If all social services band together, Cambodia can establish a holistic reporting mechanism that includes reporting, referral, investigation, treatment and follow-up and judicial intervention – only if necessary. No particular Super Agency can handle such a comprehensive response to violence against children; thus, all stakeholders involved in child protection must come together and collaborate – in every sense of the word – to ensure that the appropriate financial, human resource, technical, and telecommunications resources are established, understood and used by all involved in child protection.



RESOURCES NGO Centres Visited • Cambodian Centre for the Protection of Children's Rights (CCPCR), Director, 26 September 2007. • Cambodian Human Rights and Development Association (ADHOC), Lay Im, Human Rights Monitor, 4 October 2007, Prey Veng. • Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO), Mom Lida, Human Rights Monitor, 26 September 2007, Svay Rieng. • Chab Dai (Joining Hands) Coalition, Phnom Penh 2007, Helen Sworn, 25 October, 2007. • Cambodian Women’s Crisis Centre (CWCC), Municipal Director, Nop Sarinsreyroth, 20 September 2007, Phnom Penh. • Friends-Mith Samlanh International, Phnom Penh, Alice Köstler, ChildSafe Project Manager, 25 October, Phnom Penh 2007. • Goutte d’eau, Executive Director, Sam Saovmmarith, 3 October 2007, Prey Veng Province. • Rural Aid Organization (RAO), Svay Rieng Town, Ken Buchanon, Director, 26 September 2007. • Rural Economic Development Association (REDA), Cent Sareoun, Coordinator of Orphaned and Vulnerable Children, 26 September 2007, Svay Rieng. • World Education International, Prey Veng, 4 October 2007. Social Services Sector • DoSVY Prevy Veng, Chief of Children’s Welfare, 4 October 2007. • DoSVY, Svay Rieng, Deputy Director of DSAVY and Deputy Chief of the Office of Children's Welfare, 25 September 2007 • Neak Leung Operational Health District, 1 October 2007, Prey Veng Province. • Svay Rieng Provincial Hospital, 26 September 2007. Focus Group Discussions
SVAY RIENG Children Boys Girls Total 11 16 17 Village Authorities Male Female Total 10 8 18 Commune Authorities Male Female Total 16 16 32 Teachers Male Female Total 20 29 49



Boys Girls Total

13 27 44

Village Authorities

Male Female Total

15 11 26 44

Commune Authorities

Male Female Total

9 5 14 46


Male Female Total

23 20 43 92


Village Authorities

Commune Authorities


Literature and Web site Resources Country Information • Asian Development Bank, Country Assistance Plan: Cambodia, Social Infrastructure: Health. Retrieved from http://www.adb.org/documents/caps/CAM/0303.asp. • Economic Intelligence Unit. Country Report: Cambodia, London, 2007. • Pact Cambodia, Community Councils & Civil Society, Phnom Penh, 2004. • United Nations Development Programme, United Nations Human Development Report 2006, UNDP, New York, 2006. Child Labour • International Labour Organization, Helping hands or shackled lives? Understanding child domestic labour and responses to it, ILO, Geneva, 2004. • ILO/UNICEF/World Bank, Inter-Agency Report to the Royal Government of Cambodia: Understanding Children’s Work: A challenge for growth and poverty reduction, Phnom Penh, 2006. • United Nations Children’s Fund, Child Protection Sheets: Child labour, 2007. Child Rights • Child Rights Information Network - www.crin.org • Inter-Parliamentary Union - http://www.ipu.org • United Nations Children’s Fund, A Report Card on Gender Parity and Primary Education: Number 2, UNICEF, New York, 2005.



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United Nations Children’s Fund, A Region Where Every Child Counts: Child Protection, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2005. United Nations Children’s Fund Cambodia - www.unicef.org/infobycountry/cambodia.html United Nations Children’s Fund – http://www.unicef.org

Social Services (Cambodia) • Ashby, Janet, Multi-Stakeholder Analysis on Authorized Health Examination Certificate Form Utilization for the Law Enforcement Against Sexual Exploitation and Trafficking of Children Project, UNICEF Cambodia, Phnom Penh, 2006. • Das, K, Dilip, Palmiotto, Michael. The World Police Encyclopaedia, Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group, 2006, New York. Street Children • Köstler, Alice (Ed.). Street Children Profile, Friends International, Phnom Penh, 2006. Trafficking • Humantrafficking.org - www.humantrafficking.org • UN Inter-Agency Project on Human Trafficking in the Greater Mekong Sub-region - www.notrafficking.org. Violence against Children and Women • Inter-Parliamentary Union and the United Nations Children’s Fund, Handbook for Parliamentarians N° 13: Eliminating Violence against Children, IPU-UNICEF, New York, 2007. • Miles, Greg, Stop Violence against Us! Summary Report I and II, Tearfund Cambodia, Phonm Penh, • National Institute of Public Health and National Institute of Statistics, Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2005, Phnom Penh, 2006. • Pinheiro, Paulo, Sérgio, World Report on Violence against Children, United Nations Secretary-General, Geneva, 2006. • Violence against Women: A Baseline Survey, final report Cambodia 2005, GTZ/UNIFEM/CIDA/EWMI/USAID, 2005. • United Nations Children’s Fund, Alternative Care for Children without Primary Caregivers in TsunamiAffected Countries, UNICEF EAPRO, Bangkok, 2006. • United Nations Children’s Fund, UNICEF Cambodia Child Protection: Justice for Children: Fact sheet, Phnom Penh, 2007. • United Nations Secretary-General’s Study on Violence - www.violencestudy.org