- March 2, 2023 9:53 AM
- July 25, 2022 8:49 PM
- December 14, 2020 10:30 AM
Fears raised that pandemic will add to problems
PHNOM PENH--Prime Minister Hun Sen has committed his government to promoting children’s rights and providing full protection for them under all circumstances.
He said the government has a vision to provide children as well as families and communities with a quality of life in which they can actively and equally participate in society.
Hun Sen set out the commitment in a letter on May 19 congratulating the upcoming International Children’s Day on June 1 and the World Day Against Child Labor on June 12, as well as Cambodia Children’s Day 2021,
Cambodia has joined a global drive to eliminate violence against children and all forms of child abuse, aiming to enhance the implementation of the convention on children’s rights in Cambodia, he added.
However, Am Sam Ath, deputy director of monitoring at LICADHO said all forms of child abuse remain and called for more mechanisms and engagement.
Sam Ath said many children have been victims of trafficking, physical and mental violence, sexual abuse and labor exploitation.
As Covid-19 hit, children were likely to suffer from physical violence inside the family due to frustration prompted by lockdowns, as well as struggles with education.
“From our study, we’ve seen that girls are likely to suffer from sexual abuse than women,” Sam Ath said.
“Moreover, due to Covid, children are required to study from home, in which they are likely to suffer from physical abuse caused by their frustrated parents, and difficulty in learning online.”
He feared also that some children may drop out of school during the pandemic as they struggle with online learning and psychological problems.
LICADHO and other civil societies would help as much as possible in the dissemination of knowledge and awareness, training of children in their communities, and importantly urging the government to promote children’s right and protection, he said.
Hun Sen said the government has implemented a number of strategies to support the rights of children as enshrined in the Cambodian Constitution. Cambodia has launched a National Policy on Child Protection (2019-2029) and an Action Plan on the Prevention of Online Sexual Exploitation.
Recently, the government has implemented cash subsidies to poor and vulnerable families, including pregnant women and children under the age of two, to support them during the pandemic.
“This is a government intervention program during the Covid-19 pandemic for families with type 1 and 2 poor ID card, aiming to ease their burden,” the Prime Minister said in the letter.
Although Cambodia will not mark Children’s Day this year due to the pandemic, there will be visits to orphanages, rehabilitation centers and vulnerable children to show support and encouragement and to inspect the children’s welfare.
Two or three years ago there were 604 child care centers in Cambodia. This number has been reduced to 232, says Touch Channy, director-general of the general department of technical affairs of the Social Affairs Ministry.
Channy said, reducing the number of child care center is one of the policies as the government wants children to be with their families and communities.
“Raising children in the center is not a good choice, according to the research done inside and outside the country,” Channy said. “We think that having a lot of child care centers as a fast-developing country is not good at all.”
Construction of a national rehabilitation center for juveniles at Kandal Steng has just finished and will soon be open to accepting juveniles convicted by the court, he added.
Leang Lo, head of child protection at Save the Children said in the outcome report for National Launch of the UN Global Study on Children Deprived of Liberty in Cambodia that around 80 percent of the children were left in the child care institutions as their parents saw benefits from keeping their children there.
“Parents tend to hold a variety of perceived benefits of placing their children in institutions, such as basic care, education, reduction of the family’s financial burden, ability to live in a safer environment and others,” he said.
It was a source of dismay that some parents think of their children as a burden and urged all parents to think twice before doing so, he added.
Hun Sen also urged authorities at all levels to continue strengthening mechanisms to prevent problems, and intervene and respond to children’s cases with the aim of promoting and providing social justice by ensuring equality between boys and girls.
He also encouraged compatriots and relevant parties to continue investing in children as they are human resources full of potential who can achieve sustainable development for Cambodia in the future.
According to UNICEF, one in two children has suffered from severe physical abuse, while one in four has experienced emotional abuse, and one in 20 has been sexually assaulted. Many other children have been trafficked, forced to work, separated from their families and unnecessarily placed in residential care institutions.