Roon* is a 17-year-old boy studying at secondary school in a remote province of Cambodia. Roon lives in a small village with his parents and six siblings. He says he has often seen sexual harassment happening, even at school, but he never thought there was anything wrong with it.
With the help of a few videos, things are changing…
“I used to think that sexual harassment only involved touching someone’s body or serious sexual abuse. I have seen people telling sexual jokes and I just thought this was normal. I would think it was funny. The girls I saw never reacted at all and if they maybe didn’t like it they just walked away quietly. I was not aware that it was a violation of their rights or it might affect their lives in other ways.”
Roon’s school started showing videos made by other young people about how much sexual harassment can affect women and girls.
“The videos made me understand what the sexual harassment I was witnessing could lead to. I had not realised it made people feel shameful and depressed, and that this can have far-reaching consequences like girls dropping out of school, leaving their jobs or even feeling suicidal.”
The lessons at school include actions girls and boys can take to stand up to sexual harassment when they see this. Roon has committed to be a champion for this at his school.
“I can now clearly see that it is easy for boys like me to prevent sexual harassment by setting an example to be friendly and respectful rather than being threatening or derogatory. If I see any boy or man committing act involving with sexual harassment, I will speak out and if they don’t stop I will report this to the elders and the teachers.
“Women and girls should dare to complain or to report acts which make them uncomfortable to anybody; I want to make sure I am someone they can speak out to, someone who can be of help to them.”
Roon is sharing his personal commitment with those around him, especially with his friends who live in the school boarding house, to make sure that all the girls in his class feel safe at school.
“Why Stop Sexual Harassment against Women and Girls in School?” is a part of the Education for Ethnic Minorities Program (EEM), funded by the Australian Government. This program is implemented by CARE Cambodia in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport.
* Names have been changed to protect identities.