Phally is a grandmother-of-three who is reducing violence against women, particularly within couples, by encouraging dialogue and acting as the leader of a women’s group which provides support.
“I act as an advisor who gives community members options such as where to get legal and health support for women,” says Phally. She is very active in her community, providing training on heathy relationships and positive masculinity as well as visiting families in her village almost every day on the one hand help resolve problems. She has emerged as a trusted figure.
“Our women’s group plays an important role in the community. When women experience violence, they always come to the group to seek support,” Phally explains. “I always visit families where there have previously been incidents to check if any further violence is occurring.”
As well as checking up on families that have previously had problems, Phally is also trying to prevent cases from escalating. “Sometimes I see examples of emotional violence; I therefore educate husbands and wives about the potential consequences of this violence. I believe that when a problem is still resolvable, we have to educate and give advice to families as soon as possible so that it does not get worse; if situations are not addressed early on, they could lead to physical violence which will further affect women’s lives.”
Where physical violence does occur, Phally makes sure that women receive the help they need and that men are held accountable for their actions—even when she is afraid the perpetrator may threaten her. “When there is a serious case of physical violence, I immediately need to report it to local authorities especially the police in order for them to intervene as soon as possible. I always tell those women to be strong, because there are many people who can help them. If they are injured, they can get help; it is my responsibility is to refer women to the nearby health centre or hospital. If they think that they can no longer live with their husbands, they can go to get legal services at the commune office.”
“Before, people came to me almost every day because I am the one who can talk to them and help them. But recently it has become more quiet; I have observed that the violence against women by their husbands is at the lowest I have known.” Phally can identify five different families she has worked with where emotional, physical and economic violence has now stopped.
When speaking of her work, Phally says, “I have realised that gender norms are greatly rooted in our society, where women are less valued and consequently they are more prone to violence.” She concludes, “I am very happy to witness the progress in our community.”
These activities are part of the Safe Homes, Safe Communities project. Safe Homes, Safe Communities is part of the Cambodia Ending Violence Against Women (EVAW) Program, a five-year partnership between the Ministry of Women’s Affairs (MoWA) and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). These activities by CARE as an EVAW partner are made possible with the financial support of the Australian Government.
Safe Homes, Safe Communities works with a number of valued project implementation partners, including: Ministry of Health, Ministry of Interior, The National League of Communes in Phnom Penh, the Poor Community Development Office of Phnom Penh Municipality and other national and international institutions who are actively working together to end violence against women.