Short Film Awards prompt young men to speak out against sexual harrassment

Winners of the #WhyStop Short Film Awards will be announced on Friday 25 November, launching 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

Phnom Penh, Cambodia, 21 November 2016 — Young Cambodian men have joined the fight against sexual harassment with their entries to CARE Cambodia’s #WhyStop Short Film Competition. The 16 finalist filmmakers, aged between 16 and 29, believe their films send a clear message: sexual harassment must stop.

“My friends and I decided to make our film for #WhyStop because people don’t talk about sexual harassment,” said Long Sovitou, 26, from Phnom Penh. “I hope people will think about it and start to talk about it. When they know and understand it, they can join us to stop sexual harassment together.”

Battambang finalist Som Sotheara, 29, sees his entry as a call to action. “My film calls on all men to make a better society and stop sexual harassment,” he said. “We can’t stop sexual harassment unless everyone is involved. And real men don’t sexually harass women.” Sexual harassment is one of the most common forms of abuse experienced by women in Cambodia.

Defined as any unwanted, unwelcome or uninvited behaviour of a sexual nature that can make a person feel humiliated, intimidated or offended, sexual harassment features in the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence Against Women. A commitment of the NAPVAW is to help young people develop positive attitudes towards non-violent relationships and gender equality. CARE Cambodia says this supported their approach to #WhyStop. “CARE has been talking with young women about sexual harassment for a long time, but we needed to engage young men in the conversation” says Pysal Eart, Senior Program Manager for CARE Cambodia.

“It can be difficult for them to understand the impact that sexual harassment has on women, so we wanted young men to talk to the women around them, and really think about how sexual harassment makes them feel. We asked them to make a short film to explain why sexual harassment must stop, just on their phone or their camera - and their creativity has been overwhelming.” Ms Eart said.

Endorsed by the Minister of Education, Youth and Sport and the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the competition was promoted on facebook and via the #WhyStop Roadshow, which visited over 50 high schools, universities and youth groups nationwide. CARE plans to share the final films in schools and on facebook, in Cambodia and around the world. Pysal Eart said “We will present these young people as the voices for change – and what powerful voices they have!” Khit Vichet, 25, is from an indigenous community in Ratanakiri. “I hope my film can be a message to indigenous men,” he said. “Women don’t want to be harassed, and we don’t want sexual harassment in our community.”

PRESS RELEASE “I was inspired to make my film because of what happened to a female friend and classmate,” explains Ly Tong Yean, 22, from Phnom Penh. “Sexual harassment can hurt the dignity of women. In Khmer culture we value and respect women, so sexual harassment should be stopped immediately.”

Heang Heng, 23 from Siem Reap agrees. “Sexual harassment can make a girl feel humiliated, lonely and not want to go out anymore,” he said. “Ï think if we can keep talking and making films about sexual harassment, it will force the audience to think about it and hopefully change them a lot. Then men will stop harassing and they can start helping.”

Organisers say the calibre of films impressed the judging panel, which comprised of Ministry officials, human rights organizations and Sothea Innes, winner of Tropfest Southeast Asia 2014. This Friday, the young filmmakers will join judges and invited guests including MP Hun Many and the Minister of Women’s Affairs, at a red carpet awards event. The presentation, hosted at Major Cineplex by cellcard to include a screening of all 16 finalist films, will mark the start of activities for this year’s 16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence.

#WhyStop is part of CARE Cambodia’s Safe Workplaces, Safe Communities project, funded by the UN Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women, with support from the Australian Government. The #WhyStop Short Film Awards is sponsored by Major Cineplex by cellcard, Sabay News, and Sony International. Further information can be found at www.care-cambodia.org/whystop and on facebook at www.facebook.com/whystopfilmcompetition

For more information, contact: Sara Denby (English), Campaigns Officer, CARE Cambodia Email: sara.denby@careint.org Tel: 011 69 32 48 OR Pysal Eart (Khmer), Senior Program Manager, CARE Cambodia Email: pysal.eart@careint.org Tel: 078 87 74 56

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CARE is an international development organisation fighting global poverty, with a special focus on working with women and girls to bring sustainable changes to their communities. 

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