Cambodia

Cambodia is ranked 13 out of 86 in the 2012 Social Institution and Gender Index. The country was ranked 27 out of 102 in the 2009 Social Institution and Gender Index.

The 2011 UNDP Human Development Index (HDI) score for the country is 0.523, placing it in 139th place (out of 187 countries). The Gender Inequality Index score is 0.500. Cambodia's World Economic Forum Global Gender Gap Index rating for 2011 is 0.6464, placing it 102th place (out of a total of 135 countries).  

Discriminatory Family Code: 

The new Civil Code sets the age of consent at 18 for both men and women.[1] According to the 2010 Demographic and Health Survey, 10.7% of girls aged 15-19 were married, divorced or widowed, compared to 1.5% of boys in the same age range.[2]

Although monogamous marriages are the only legally recognised form of union[3], informal polygamous unions are reported to exist in Cambodia.[4]

Cambodian law grants men and women equal rights in terms of parental authority.[5] Women and men have the same rights to divorce, which can be requested by mutual consent, or on the basis of one or several of a list of acceptable grounds[6]. In the event of divorce, the Law on Marriage and Family stipulates that the child’s best interests should be  taken into account in determining custody, but that the parent who loses custody should have the right to visit and remain in contact with the children, as well as the responsibility to pay child support[7]. Like men, women can pass on Cambodian citizenship to their children[8].

The Civil Code provides women and men equal inheritance rights both as daughters and widows.[9]

[1] CEDAW (2011) p.52 [2] National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro (2011) [3] CEDAW (2011) p.10 [4] USAID (2006) [5] Article 115 of the Law on Marriage and Family in CEDAW (2004), p. 28. [6] Article 39 of the Law on Marriage and Family in CEDAW (2004), p.78 [7] Articles 74 and 75 of the Law on Marriage and Family; CEDAW (2004), p. 78 [8] Articles 74 and 75 of the Law on Marriage and Family; CEDAW (2004), p.42. [9] CEDAW (2011)

Restricted Physical Integrity: 

Rape is a criminal offence in Cambodia, with punishments of 5-10 years imprisonment.[10] The new Penal Code approved by the National Assembly in 2009 came into effect in December 2010 and has strengthened the wording of the previous law on rape.[11]

In 2005, policy makers passed the Law on the Prevention of Domestic Violence and the Protection of Victims.[12]  The law criminalises acts of domestic violence, but does not specify penalties.[13] 

Sexual harassment is prohibited under labour legislation, but no penalties are specified, according to the US Department of State.[14]  Women’s groups report sexual harassment to be a problem in Cambodia, citing a study which found that one in ten garment workers had experienced sexual harassment.[15]

There is limited verifiable data available as to the prevalence of violence against women in Cambodia. According to the US Department of State human rights report for 2010, highlighted that reported cases are unlikely to be representative of the prevalence of rape due to under reporting.[16] One local NGO had received 501 cases of rape in 2010, while the Ministry of Interior reported investigating 328 cases of rape and attempted rape. [17] It is unclear how many of these cases resulted in convictions. Trafficking and kidnapping for purposes of sexual exploitation is reported to be a significant problem in Cambodia.[18] There are also a very large number of child prostitutes in Cambodia, thought to account for 35% of all of those working in the sex industry.[19] Sexual violence was a feature of the conflict that continued in Cambodia into the early 1990s.[20] 

Domestic violence is not discussed publicly and incidents of spousal abuse are rarely reported. It is likely that official reports of violence are under-reported due to cultural taboos that tell women that they would bring shame and dishonour upon their families by speaking out.[21] The police and court systems are often reluctant to interfere in ‘domestic’ matters. As a result women often feel that they have no one to turn to for relief.[22] Surveys reveal widespread acceptance of domestic violence. According to the 2010 DHS, when provided with a list of five reasons for which a man may be justified in beating his wife, 46percent of women agreed with at least one reason.[23] That survey also reveals that 22 per cent of ever-married women (aged 15-49) have experienced physical, emotional, or sexual violence, most often by a current or previous husband.[24] This represents a three percent decline from 2000.[25]

There are no reports that Cambodians have ever practised female genital mutilation.

Abortion is available on request in Cambodia.[26]

Women have the legal right to access contraception and information about reproductive health and family planning, but cost and geographical location often limit access.[27] According to the 2010 DHS, 51% of married women are currently using a contraceptive method with 35% using a modern method and 16% using a traditional method. Use of contraception has increased substantially since 2005 when 27% of married women were using a modern method. The survey found that 17% of married women have an unmet need for family planning.[28]

[11] The NGO Committee on CEDAW and Cambodian Committee of Women (2011) pp..66 – 67 and p.6 [12] CEDAW (2006), p.4 [13] US Department of State (2011) [14] Article 172 of the Labor Law, in CEDAW (2006), p.22; US Department of State (2011) [15]Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women In Cambodia, 2010 Prepared by NGO-CEDAW and CAMBOW March 2011 at p.71 [16] US Department of State (2011) [17] US Department of State (2011) [18] CEDAW (2004), pp. 29-34; LICADHO (2006), pp. 13-18; US Department of State (2010) [19] Children/Youth as Peacebuilders (2009), p.90 [20] Nobel Women’s Initiative (2011), p.10 [21] LICADHO (2006), p. 5. [22] LICADHO (2006), pp. 5-6; USAID (2006), p. 18. [23] National Institute of Public Health et al (2006), Table 20.7. [24]  National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro (2011) [25] National Institute for Statistics, ORC Macro (2001), Table 16.5. [26] UN (2011) [27] US Department of State (2011) [28] National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro (2011)

Son Bias: 

Of those children under two included in the 2010 DHS, 80.5% of girls and 77.1% of girls had received all their basic vaccinations.[29] Under-five mortality rates were higher for boys than for girls, although rates of malnutrition were virtually the same.[30] Overall, this would not indicate son bias in regards to early childhood care.

According to data from the 2010 DHS, of women aged 20-24 interviewed for the survey, 9.1% had received no education at all, compared to 5.2% of men in the same age bracket. Of this age group, 14.2% of women and 18.6% of men had completed secondary school or gone on to tertiary-level education.[31]

The male/female sex ratio for the total population in 2012 is 0.96.[32]

There is no evidence to suggest that Cambodia is a country of concern in relation to missing women.

[29] National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro (2011), Table 13.3. [30] National Institute of Statistics et al (2011), Tables 11.3 and 14.1 [31] National Institute of Statistics et al (2011), Tables 4.2.1 and 4.2.2 [32] Central Intelligence Agency (2012)

Restricted Resources and Entitlements: 

Cambodian women have equal rights with men to land and are entitled to access to property other than land. Overall though, high rates of poverty and landlessness among all Cambodians circumscribe women’s ability to achieve these rights.[33] The Sub Decree on Social Land Concessions stated that, “In order to ensure the land policy responds to all citizens’ needs, such policy must respond to women’s needs, especially women heads of household.” One of the key principles for this work is the provision of land titling and continuing the registration of common ownership of land/property between husband and wife. The government reports that it has implemented the Land Titling Programme, issuing land titles to citizens, with three-quarters of the land titles issued in rural areas. As a result, from 2002 to 2007 this programme distributed 1.6 million parcels of land. Of this, 70 percent is common property, 20 percent is the private property of women, 5 percent is the private property of men and the other 5 percent is the collective property of pagodas.[34]

At present, women’s property rights are governed by provisions in the Law on Marriage and Family of 1989, which makes a distinction between joint property (i.e. that acquired or bought during the marriage) and separate property (i.e. that owned by either spouse before the marriage). Separate property can be managed and disposed of independently by its owner; decisions over joint property require agreement of both spouses. Many women choose to leave their husbands in charge of most matters related to property ownership, meaning they effectively lose their rights over joint property, placing them at a distinct disadvantage in the event of divorce.[35] A 2006 USAID study reports that limited awareness of their rights – coupled with poor access to legal aid and advice – makes women more vulnerable in contractual affairs, including when others make claims on their land.[36]

The new Civil Code provide women with equal rights to bank loans; however, according to the 2004 CEDAW report, many women leave decisions regarding financial matters to their husbands or fathers.[37]  Limited access to information often makes it difficult for women to benefit from existing micro-credit programmes, although the creation of Village Credit Committees providing access to small-value loans and a cow bank has predominantly benefitted poorer women, including widows and victims of domestic violence.[38]  

[33] NGO Committee on CEDAW and CAMBOW (2006), p. 11. [34] CEDAW (2011) pp.44-45 [35] Articles 32, 36, and 37 of the Law on Marriage and the Family in CEDAW (2004), p. 75, 78-79 [36] USAID (2006), Vol. 1, pp. 19-20. [37] CEDAW (2004), p.69 [38] CEDAW (2004), pp. 69, 73.

Restricted Civil Liberties: 

Legally, women in Cambodia are not restricted in accessing public space and do not have to obtain permission from their husbands or fathers to apply for a passport.[39] The right to freedom of speech, assembly and association are frequently violated in Cambodia, according to Freedom House.[40] It appears that there are many women’s rights groups active in Cambodia, working on a range of issues, including legal and practical support to victims of gender-based violence, providing training to government officials to support them to mainstream gender into their work, trafficking and sexual exploitation, and providing micro credit.[41] As the 2004 CEDAW report states, participation in NGOs has allowed women access to processes of decision-making and positions of authority that they are unable to reach in other sectors.[42]

The Constitution guarantees Cambodian women full equality and political rights, but traditionally women have played a very small role in public life.[43] In November 2011 women held 26 of 123 seats in national parliament.[44] The government has taken a number of steps in recent years to increase the participation of women in political decision-making roles, including appointing women as Deputy Governors in all but one of twenty-four provinces and municipalities.[45] Outside of politics, very few women occupy positions of power and authority in business and the civil service, or security agencies.[46] The number and percentage of women serving in the National Assembly has slowly increased over time.

The Constitution of Cambodia guarantees maternity leave at full pay for employed women, and also prohibits employment discrimination for reasons of pregnancy.[47] However, despite these provisions, the law caps benefits at fifty percent of wages. Women receive ninety days of leave and benefits are paid solely by the employer.[48] However, 53 percent of female workers are employed in unwaged or low-skill informal employment, meaning that these benefits are not available to them.[49] Further, permanent civil servants and domestic or household workers are not covered by the maternity legislation.[50] 

[39] CEDAW 2011, p. 49 [40] Freedom House (2010) [41] CEDAW (2004), pp.19, 23, 33, 35. [42] CEDAW (2004), p.38 [43] Articles 34 and 41 of the Constitution in CEDAW (2006), pp. 34-35. [44] IPU (2011) [45] US Department of State (2010). [46] US Department of State (2011) [47] Article 46 of the Constitution. [48] International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009) [49] JICA (2007), pp. 37-38. [50] ILO (2009)

Background: 

Formerly a French colony, Cambodia became independent in 1953.[51] The Khmer Rouge seized power in 1975, and over the next four years instigated a brutal regime under which as many as 1.5 - 2 million Cambodians may have died of execution, overwork, starvation and disease.[52] The impacts of this period of terror are still felt in Cambodian society today.[53] The Khmer Rouge were overthrown in 1979, but civil conflict continued until the Paris Peace Accords were signed in 1991.[54] According to the BBC, 70% of the population relies on subsistence farming to make a living, although clothing manufacture and export, and tourism are both important sources of income.[55] Cambodia is classed as a low-income country by the World Bank.[56]

Cambodia’s Constitution of 1993 guarantees equality before the law as well as a prohibition on discrimination.[57] However, discriminatory laws remain in force.[58]

Additional national laws and government initiatives promote the well-being and empowerment of women, but their implementation remains poor. The massacres during the Khmer Rouge regime (1975-1979) left many women widowed, and an estimated 25 per cent of Cambodian households are headed by single women. These households are particularly vulnerable to poverty. Some 83 percent of women in Cambodia are employed, but more than half of them work as unpaid agricultural labour. This in turn has pushed many women towards urban areas and other employment opportunities in the informal sector, and has increased their vulnerability to trafficking and exploitation in the sex industry.[59]  The government reports that “The Kingdom of Cambodia has a custom and tradition where a burden has been strictly imposed on women in the social and cultural fields. A traditional code of conduct (Chbab Srey) for women’s lives has become a wall denying the rights and freedoms of women leading to inequality between men and women in social and cultural fields, including the normalisation justification of violence against women.[62] Women generally have less access than men to resources such as education and health care.[60] Approximately 15 percent of all rural households, many of which are female-headed, are landless.[61]

Cambodia ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) in 1992, and the Optional Protocol in 2010.[63]

[50] ILO (2009) [51] Freedom House (2010) [52] Freedom House (2010); CIA (2011) [53] BBC (n.d.) [54] Freedom House (2010) [55] BBC (n.d.) [56] World Bank (n.d.) [57] Articles 31, 46 and 45 of the Constitution of Cambodia, Ratified 21 September 1993. [58] JICA (2007) p.11 [59] JICA (2007), p. 37; United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNFIEM) et al, (2004), pp. 34-35, 117. [60] NGO Committee on CEDAW, Cambodian Committee of Women (CAMBOW) (2006), pp. 11, 20-21, [61] JICA (2007), p. 34. [62] CEDAW (2004) p.26; NGO-CEDAW and CAMBOW (2011) [63] UNTC (2011)

Sources: 

BBC (n.d.) ‘Cambodia profile’, BBC News, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/country_profiles/1243892.stm (accessed 16 November 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) (2011) The World Factbook: Cambodia, online edition, CIA, Washington, D.C., https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/cb.html (accessed 16 November 2011)

Central Intelligence Agency (2012) The World Factbook: Sex Ratio, available at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/fields/2018.html (accessed 29 February 2012)

Children/Youth as Peacebuilders (2009) ‘SEXUAL VIOLENCE: Study on Cambodia, Colombia and Northern Uganda’, Ottowa, Ontario: Children/Youth as Peacebuilders, http://www.crin.org/violence/search/closeup.asp?infoID=21112 (accessed 16 November 2011)

Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2004), Consideration of Reports Submitted by States Parties Under Article 18 of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women: Cambodia, Combined Initial, Second and Third Periodic Reports of States Parties, CEDAW/C/KHM/1-3, CEDAW: New York, NY.

CEDAW (2006) ‘Responses to the list of issues and questions for consideration of the combined initial, second and third periodic report Cambodia’, CEDAW/C/KHM/Q/1-3/Add.1, CEDAW, New York.

Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW) (2011): Cambodia, Combined fourth and fifth periodic reports of States parties, CEDAW/C/KHM/4-5, CEDAW: New York, NY, available at http://www2.ohchr.org/english/bodies/cedaw/docs/54/CEDAW-C-KHM-4-5.pdf.

Freedom House (2010) ‘Freedom in the World country reports: Cambodia’, www.freedomhouse.org/template.cfm?page=22&year=2010&country=7794 (accessed 16 November 2011)

International Labour Organization (ILO) (2009), Database of Conditions of Work and Employment Laws, ILO: Geneva, Switzerland

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2010), Women in Parliament: All Countries on National Parliaments, IPU: Geneva, http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm.

Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU) (2011), Women in National Parliament, IPU: Geneva, http://www.ipu.org/wmn-e/classif.htm (accessed 11 February 2012)

Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA) (2007), Cambodia: Country Gender Profile, JICA: Tokyo, Japan.

Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defense of Human Rights (LICADHO) (2006), Violence Against Women in Cambodia, LICADHO: Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro (2011) ‘Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2010’. Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Calverton, Maryland, USA: National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro.

National Institute of Public Health, National Institute of Statistics [Cambodia] and ORC Macro (2006), Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2005, National Institute of Public Health, National Institute of Statistics and ORC Macro: Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Calverton, MD.

National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro (2011) ‘Cambodia Demographic and Health Survey 2010’. Phnom Penh, Cambodia and Calverton, Maryland, USA: National Institute of Statistics, Directorate General for Health, and ICF Macro.

Nobel Women’s Initiative (2011) ‘War on Women: Time for Action to End Sexual Violence in Conflict’, Ottowa, Ontario: Nobel Women’s Initiative.

The NGO Committee on CEDAW and Cambodian Committee of Women (CAMBOW) (2006), Joint Coalition Shadow Report for the CEDAW Committee, NGO Committee, CAMBOW: Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

The NGO Committee on CEDAW and Cambodian Committee of Women (CAMBOW) (2011) Implementation of the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women In Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM), World Bank, Asian Development Bank (ADB), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and Department for International Development (DFID), (2004), A Fair Share for Women: Cambodia Gender Assessment, UNIFEM, WB, ADB, UNDP, and DFID: Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

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United Nations Development Programme (2011) Human Development Report 2011, available at http://hdr.undp.org/en/media/HDR_2011_EN_Complete.pdf  (accessed 29 February 2012)

UNIFEM (n.d.), Gender Profile of the Conflict in Cambodia, Women War Peace Portal, www.womenwarpeace.org.

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-          CEDAW: http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8&chapter=4&lang=en (accessed 15 November 2011)

-          Optional Protocol: http://treaties.un.org/Pages/ViewDetails.aspx?src=TREATY&mtdsg_no=IV-8-b&chapter=4&lang=en (accessed 15 November 2011)

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Data
Discrim. Fam. Code Rank 2012: 
13
Discrim. Fam. Code Value 2012: 
0.064
Legal Age of Marriage: 
0
Early Marriage: 
0.332
Parental Authority: 
0.25
Inheritance: 
0.5
Data
Rest. Phys. Integrity Rank 2012: 
25
Rest. Phys. Integrity Value 2012: 
0.1793
Violence Against Women (laws): 
0.166667
Female Genital Mutilation: 
0
Reproductive Integrity: 
0.166
Attitudes Towards Domestic Violence: 
0.552
Prevalance Of Domestic Violence: 
0.137
Data
Son Bias Rank 2012: 
39
Son Bias Value 2012: 
0.474979
Missing Women: 
0
Fertility Preferences: 
0.4842
Data
Rest. Resources & Ent. Rank 2012: 
39
Rest. Resources & Ent. Value 2012: 
0.3273
Access To Land: 
0
Access To Property Other Than Land: 
0.5
Access To Bank Loans And Credit: 
0.5
Data
Rest. Civil Liberties Rank 2012: 
50
Rest. Civil Liberties Value 2012: 
0.4873
Access To Public Space: 
0
Political Participation: 
0.184783
Political Quotas: 
1