“The court is politicized; if you’re not a part of the system, you don’t exist. It’s so corrupt.”
These words reflect experience - the experience of a Cambodian Parliamentary member, of the opposition party, who is a woman. She was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2005, and she was awarded the Leadership Award in Washington D.C. She is the author of domestic violence laws in Cambodia. Her entire life has been about gender equality – fighting for women’s rights as human rights. One of the laws she authored regarding domestic/marital rape resulted in her almost losing her seat in parliament due to challenging Cambodian culture. She says that challenging culture is inevitable if one wants to make an impact.
The NGO CSW session of March 14, 2016, “Ending Violence Against Women and Girls,” brought together panelists from Morocco, Colombia, Iran, and Cambodia. They presented social, cultural, financial, and political factors as intersecting with the issue of violence against women and of women’s inequality in their various nations and regions. The women represented at this session work with UN Watch, Liberal International, and the International Network of Liberal Women.
In the case of Cambodia, the parliamentary official discussed the role of corruption in politics and the legal system in blocking access to women seeking justice for violence perpetrated against them. She said:
“As soon as you go to court, you have to pay the judge or he won’t even let you into the courtroom; so, access to justice is limited for those who don’t have the resources.”
She cited the negative effects this has, especially on rural women in poverty who do not have the resources that allow them to be heard within this corrupt system.
The Cambodian parliamentary member continued:
“A political campaign must be used for any gender-based movement; otherwise, government leaders won’t do anything.”
Even though the political and legal system seems both corrupt and apathetic, she chooses to work within it, though in actuality transcending it, so that she can bring change that provides hope and justice to women facing violence.