Aside

Personal findings and opinions about women’s rights in Cambodia.

27 Jun

(This is just my opinion of situations I have witnessed and been told about. This isn’t backed with any professional research, and doesn’t apply to everyone in the country.)

I have never considered myself a “feminist” but I do believe in equal rights for both genders. We are lucky in the states that we do get fair treatment (I understand this doesn’t apply to all), because I have seen the other side of the coin, if only briefly. I know this may be a rule of thumb for all SE Asian countries, but I only have experience with Cambodia. Women here are not treated as equals. The men are free to go out and visit brothels, but god forbid a woman shows a little skin or just wants to go out dancing.  I understand that cultural differences aren’t a bad thing, but sometimes it is just so frustrating.

Sure, there are lots of issues out here, but what stands out to me the most is the violence against women and the lack of education about women’s rights and mental health. I have heard stories about men taking what they want from women, even if the women do not give consent. If you are married, it isn’t considered rape. The whole “face” part of their culture makes it hard to know exactly what is happening behind closed doors. I have however gotten close enough to a few women to find that self-mutilation must be quite common here. When I ask why they hurt themselves, they tell me that they are sad, think too much, and cannot make it stop. Mental health services, such as counseling, seem to be abysmal in Cambodia, because talking to a professional would be admitting that there is a problem.

Since I have been here my idea of right and wrong has become blurred and has changed. When I first arrived, the large number of working girls really bothered me, but I have accepted the fact that some (not all) made that life decision, and I respect their right to do so. It is the abuse and emotional pain that really gets to me. Violence against women should be fought against everywhere. Education, including learning about women’s rights and mental health, should be offered to everyone. But this is the problem. All of the “shoulds” in the world won’t make a difference.

How can I help???

Sorry for all of the grammatical errors and just all over the place content.

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