Gender-based violence has been one of the big issues for women in the community for a long time. There are many forms of gender-based violence namely psychological violence, physical violence, verbal violence, socio-economic violence, and sexual violence or marital rape. Not only did these victims stay silent, but there is limited resources for these women to ask for help. On top of that, there is also a social constraint when women want to talk about this issue as women are considered as “belonging of the husband”. With the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, it has caused an unprecedented catastrophe to the people in different pictures especially women and it also exacerbates this Gender-based violence. This happens because of loss of income and lock-down. Job loss takes away the women’s financial independence and lockdowns trap women at home with the abusers. According to This Life Cambodia (2020), only 8% of the Cambodian population know about women’s right to live a free life from domestic violence. This clearly indicates how devastated it is for women to seek help, and COVID-19 has made it even more distressing for women.
How can we help these women to escape from these masked abusers? There are three levels of action to help these victims. First, individually speaking, we can help them by becoming an “Agent of change”. If we encounter someone with bruises, we can reach out to them and tell them that there deserve rights and respect. No one is subject to violence. Moreover, we can raise awareness of how harmful it is for the culture “Women is the belonging of husband” because this is when women are not encouraged to speak of their issue. Everyone has the right to expression and women deserve no less than us. They should have the opportunity to speak for themselves. We can raise awareness by speaking to our family, our friends, our community, and our country about this issue through gathering talk, lecture series, interviews, public speaking, and debating. Furthermore, we can create a youth initiative to utilize our online platform to host weekly online discussions on this topic so that more people will know about it.
At the community level, we can stop these abusers in two pictures. First, we can create a platform for women to voice their experiences, needs, and requests to cope with the sudden impact of Covid-19. This platform will look like a local counselor that women can share their stories with. Under this, we would hope to contribute to future studies regarding gender-based violence on women by gaining insight and first-hand discussion with the women who encounter the abuses. Moreover, we can also raise awareness by glorifying the importance of the issue through the creation of the counselor. By creating this platform, we will be able to overcome the information gap that we are missing as Gender-based violence is an issue that happens behind closed doors. Thus, the information that we have gained would be disseminated to relevant stakeholders such as the policymakers, civil societies, and academics in order to provide them with the possible policy recommendation to tackle this gender-based violence issue in Cambodia. Second, we can use the “No Platform Movement” to retaliate against these abusers. “No platform movement” is a movement that we aim to deny an individual with a history of gender-based violence to express their view in the public area such as university, media, and interview. The biggest positive impact from this movement is that we completely cancel those controversial figures and we are showing our support to those victims by directly canceling the abuser and indirectly telling the victims that we do not support abusers.
At the country level, we believe that the government can solve this problem in two folds. First, it is to put a harsher punishment on the crime of Gender-Based violence. Human is consequences oriented in nature, which mean one is scared of the bad result of their action. This policy will be a deterrence against the abusers. Second, the government should continue to show support and assistance to those advocated ad hoc, NGOs, and an individual who aim to eliminate this issue.
All in all, gender-based violence is an issue that needs everyone’s involvement. Only when we work together can we create a safe space for girls, women, mothers, grandmothers, and wives out there to live free from violence. Together, we will definitely stop and against those invisible abusers that abuse women behind the locked door.