Students living in remote areas of north-east Cambodia, home to many ethnic minority groups, learnt the valuable message to say no to sexual harassment.
Eight lower secondary schools in Ratanak Kiri province joined campaign activities with CARE at the end of 2015 to mark the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women. This was the first time CARE expanded its campaign activities to reach students and community members outside of the capital.
To support CARE’s understanding of gender-based violence within Cambodia, the organisation recently conducted research looking at the specific situation of women in Ratanak Kiri province.
CARE aims to ensure women from ethnic minorities have their rights respected, which includes their right to a life free from violence. The research identified that, similar to other parts of Cambodia, women in CARE’s target areas in Ratanak Kiri are experiencing different forms of gender-based violence including traditional harmful practices, physical, emotional, sexual and economic violence.
During the school activities, which focused on CARE’s campaign to stop sexual harassment, students discussed what constituted as violence against women. They listened to the new CARE karaoke song, partook in a quiz and posed for photos alongside Chanda – the face of the campaign to stand up to violence. They also discussed how to listen, support and report when they know of sexual violence. Each student also made their own commitment, writing down what they would do help end gender-based violence.
Grade eight students Savy*, 15, and Chaya*, 13, said the message of saying ‘no’ to violence against women was new to them – indicating that this is important information to share with women and girls in the north-east of the country.
“I’m happy to say no now. I know to report violence to my family, a teacher or the community,” Savy said. “We need to share this message everywhere.”
“I’m glad I can say no to violence and that we can do something to help stop it,” Chaya said. “It’s important to know what to do. I will share this message with my family, friends, the village, village-chief and my teachers.”
The findings of the study on gender-based violence in ethnic minority communities will be shared with local duty bearers at an event to launch CARE’s new Know & Grow project, which aims to equip students in Ratanak Kiri with 21st Century skills.
*Names have been changed in accordance with CARE’s child protection policy
*Savy and Chaya are the pseudonym in accordance with CARE’s child protection policy
These activities are part of the CARE Cambodia's Ethnic Minority Women program. This has beed funded by the Australian Government and other private donors.