PHNOM PENH, Sept. 16 (Xinhuanet) -- Cambodia's National Assembly approved unanimously on Friday a draft law on domestic violence aimed at protecting victims of domestic violence and preventing domestic violence.
The draft law, initiated by the Ministry of Women's Affairs, was debated for three days and approved by 88 lawmakers at Friday's session.
Lawmakers and activists welcomed the law, saying that the law will serve as an effective tool to help curb family violence in Cambodia.
Women's Affairs Minister Ing Kuntha Phavy said on Tuesday, "The draft law aims specifically to prevent domestic violence of all forms and protect victims. Physical, mental and sexual violence are covered by the law, including economic violence."
Ing Kuntha Phavy said the law would enable local police, authorities, and other relevant government institutions to protect victims in rural areas when violence has occurred or will occur, even if a court has not issued a protection order. She said that judicial intervention is rare in rural Cambodia.
The bill also allows judges to take legal action to temporarily prevent violent suspects from living with or contacting victims.
Ing Kuntha Phavy said the existing law on crime and family onlyintends to punish offenders in an effort to stop violence, but does not do anything to prevent the acts.
Cambodia's current family law only authorizes the courts to issue divorce orders when both spouses propose a divorce, Ing Kuntha Phavy said. Because of current legal procedures, she said, some 23 percent of married women between 15 and 49 suffer domestic violence.
Gender-based violence, including domestic violence, sexual abuse and trafficking is widespread in Cambodia. And the 2000 Cambodian Demographic Health Survey shows that 23 percent of women have experienced physical violence since age 15, and 25 percent of ever-married women have suffered emotional, physical and sexual violence. Enditem