Cambodia holds second advanced training on gender equality for protecting exploited children
Phnom Penh (Cambodia), 5 July 2013 - Female officers working for the General Commissariat of the National Police in Cambodia constitute less than five per cent of the total national police force, according to recent statistics. The absence of female officers has brought about negative consequences, including inequalities in treatment for assignment of duties, training of investigation skills, and promotions to higher rankings.
"Under-representation of female police officers is a key issue for the Cambodian National Police," notes Ms. Kanha Chan, National Project Officer for Project Childhood (Protection Pillar). "The lack of female officers is one reason for the continually limited capacity of law enforcement to combat crimes against children."
To address this concern, UNODC Cambodia and Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) have provided technical assistance through training activities that enhance the capacity of law enforcement officers in effectively identifying and arresting child sex offenders. By using a proactive gender approach, the Protection Pillar can ensure that training efforts in dealing with victims of abuse are gender sensitive.
Most recently, the Cambodian National Police, with support from the Protection Pillar, took further steps towards addressing gender issues in the police working environment by holding the second advanced training on gender for the Gender Working Group. Following last year's workshop on violence against women, the five-day workshop, attended by 37 members of the Cambodian National Police Gender Working Group, focused on gender issues for cases of child sexual exploitation, gender violence, domestic violence, the needs of child victims, and challenges encountered by law enforcement in handling child sexual exploitation cases.
Working in line with the Gender Mainstreaming Work Plan of the General Commissariat of the National Police, the Protection Pillar gender strategy, as adopted during the workshop, seeks to ensure that both genders benefit equally from project activities.
Ms. Margaret Akullo, Project Coordinator, Project Childhood (Protection Pillar), highlighted the significant impact the adoption of the gender strategy will have on child sexual exploitation cases.
"We welcome the adoption of the Protection Pillar strategy by the Cambodian National Police Working Group," said Ms. Akullo. "This is an important step in working together to address gender issues in the police for dealing with child sexual exploitation cases."
Although a significant step, Dr. Geeta Sekhon, UNODC expert who delivered training from the new Protection Pillar police training curriculum on "Investigating Sexual Exploitation of Children", explained that the real challenge is ensuring that an appropriate gender balance of trained staffed is available to deliver higher quality investigative outcomes not hampered by gender stereotypes.
Similarly, HE Chou Bun Eng, Secretary of State of the Ministry of Interior, noted that gender equality is key for a just society and women need to receive support in order to improve their career chances within the police environment.
Following the sessions facilitated by the Ministry of Women's Affairs, the Cambodia National Council for Women, UNODC Regional Office for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, and the Cambodian National Police, participants reported an increase in knowledge and capacity of gender issues associated with sexual exploitation of children in particular. With this, the Cambodian National Police plan to develop a Gender Training Curriculum for the General Secretariat of the National Police by incorporating elements of the Protection Pillar police training curriculum, demonstrating strong support towards addressing gender inequality in the police force.
In his closing comments, Mr. Olivier Lermet, UNODC Cambodia Country Manager, acknowledged the efforts of the Cambodian National Police, but emphasized that gender stereotyping is not just a regional concern.
"Gender issues are witnessed across the globe and at all levels of society", said Mr. Lermet. "The time is right to closely work together to start tackling the issue of gender inequality more effectively."
Project Childhood is a $7.5 million Australian AID (AusAID) funded initiative to combat the sexual exploitation of children - mainly in the travel and tourism sectors - in the Greater Mekong sub-region. The project focuses on Cambodia, Lao PDR, Thailand and Viet Nam and builds on Australia's long-term support for programs that better protect children and prevent their abuse. Project Childhood is being implemented in two complementary pillars - the Protection Pillar, a partnership between UNODC and
INTERPOL, and the Prevention Pillar, implemented by
Project Childhood (Protection Pillar) aims to enhance law enforcement capacity to identify, arrest, and prosecute traveling child-sex offenders in the Mekong region. To achieve these objectives, Project Childhood works closely with police, justice officials, and other stakeholders in the four project countries.