UPDATED at 10:25 A.M. EST on 2015-07-13
About 400 police officers and members of the armed forces rallied during a parade on Friday in a province in south central Cambodia, calling for an end to violence against women and girls in response to a brutal attack by a real estate tycoon on a former female TV presenter.
They distributed leaflets to passengers and pedestrians during the event in Kandal province, as part of the "Good Men Campaign" launched in December 2011 to prevent violence against women.
The parade's objective was to promote positive role models and strengthen the commitment of the police, army and military police in preventing attacks on women.
Ket Marady, director of the legal department at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, told RFA’s Khmer Service that members of the armed forces decided to participate in the campaign to show their unity with and support for combating violence against women.
She said most of the assaults on women in the country were committed by men.
“We are encouraging men to participate in the “Good Men Campaign," especially the armed forces, to take lead roles in preventing violence,” she said.
Kim Thidakakny, director of communications at the NGO Peace and Development, said the campaign is targeting participants in the armed forces between the ages of 15 and 49.
She said once soldiers understand gender issues, it will help them work more easily with women.
“The armed forces and authorities are playing major roles to stop violence against women in the community,” she said.
Soy Chan, a traffic police officer, said he was happy about being a part of the campaign.
“The campaign will enable officers to have a better understanding [of violence against women], so it will help them a lot,” he said.
Police search for attacker
In the meantime, police are searching for Sok Bun, a real estate magnate and president of the Cambodian Valuers and Estate Agents Association, who is believed to have fled the country after allegedly attacking former TV anchor and celebrity Ek Socheata last week at a restaurant in the capital Phnom Penh.
Security camera video footage posted on the Internet this week shows Sok Bun arguing with the woman, then dragging her to the floor and repeatedly punching and kicking her in the head, according to a report in The Phnom Penh Post.
The attack continued as one of Sok Bun’s bodyguards waved a pistol and pointed it at Ek Socheata’s face, the report said.
The brutal attack has drawn national condemnation from NGOs and lawmakers.
A group of civil society organizations that work to promote women’s rights in Cambodia issued a statement on Friday, condemning the assault and calling for effective action from relevant authorities and institutions.
Violence against women and girls in Cambodia is widespread, with 25 percent of women having experienced physical and/or sexual intimate partner violence, according to an online commentary in February by Alexandra Amling, a former program officer at The Asia Foundation in Cambodia.
“Not only is violence against women a severe rights abuse, the costs of violence against women constitute a major impediment to Cambodia’s further social and economic development,” the commentary said.
Reported by RFA’s Khmer Service. Translated by Samean Yun. Written in English by Roseanne Gerin.
CORRECTION: Corrected to read that police officers and members of the armed forces rallied during a parade on Friday as part of the "Good Men Campaign" that began in December 2011. Clarified Kim Thidakakny's title as director of communications at the NGO Peace and Development.