Dissemination Event for the Media Code of Conduct for Reporting on Violence Against Women by Richard Marshall, UNDP representative of Country DirectorDec 4, 2017
Excellency Long Sophally, Under-Secretary of State, Ministry of Women’s Affairs,
Excellency Mr. Ouk Kimseng, Under-Secretary of State/ Director General, Ministry of Information,
Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen…
A very good morning to you all - and on behalf of UNDP I welcome and thank you for joining this important event – the dissemination of the Media Code of Conduct for Reporting on Violence Against Women.
I must begin by expressing my congratulations to the Ministries of Women’s Affairs and Information for your initiative and leadership in developing the Media Code of Conduct, which was initially launched back in June.
Today’s event is part of the 16 Days of Activism to End Violence Against Women, a global campaign through which international actors and governments, seek to mobilize citizens, opinion formers and decision makers to end sexist violence all over the world. In Cambodia, this includes the Royal Government and the United Nations Agencies.
Violence against women is an unacceptable human rights violation with devastating consequences on the lives of women and their children’s. It is a serious crime, it profoundly affects women’s dignity and social standing, their physical and mental health, the education and welfare of their children and the livelihoods of their families. Moreover, gender based violence is far from marginal. The United Nations estimates that 35 per cent of women worldwide have suffered either physical or sexual intimate-partner violence, or sexual violence by a non-partner at some point in their lives. This problem is of such scale that there are significant national social and economic impacts.
In Cambodia, according to a study commissioned by the Royal Government and the United Nations, in 2015, 32 per cent of ever-partnered women aged 15-64 had experienced emotional abuse by an intimate partner in their lifetime; 21 per cent had faced either physical or sexual violence, and 8 per cent had experienced physical or sexual violence in the past 12 months.
Ending violence against women has assumed a major priority within the 2030 International Development Agenda, specifically under the SDGs 5, 16 and 17. International agencies and governments around the world are seeking to urgently address this issue. And this includes Cambodia. Under the leadership of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Second National Action Plan to End Violence Against Women (2014-2018) is being implemented to respond and combat gender-based violence. One of the core strategies of this Plan is primary prevention - stopping violence before it happens through education and media actions to change behaviours, especially those of men and boys.
And I would like to recall the case of a Cambodian TV host who earlier this year casually joked on air, about the rape and murder of a woman. This disturbing case merited unanimous condemnation and I acknowledge the efforts of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs in expressing public dismay about this incident.
This case makes clear the importance of engaging journalists and media for more professional and ethical reporting of this topic. Trivialization and jokes around violence against women contribute to and perpetuate such violence. This type of material aired on the mass media, reinforces false perceptions that women are guilty and to be blamed for the violence they suffer, and that this type of behaviour is somehow acceptable. It is the perpetrators of violence - and not female victims- who are responsible for these crimes, and they are the ones who should be prosecuted and publicly repudiated.
The media can be powerful allies in delivering gender equality and ending violence against women. This excellent initiative, the Media Code of Conduct, developed jointly by the Women’s Affairs and Information ministries will be implemented as part of the ‘Leading the Way for Gender Equality’ programme; an innovative and ground-breaking initiative of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs supported by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Swedish International Development Agency (Sida) and other development partners. The goal of this new programme is to promote feminist leadership in Cambodia and to mobilize young people and the media for gender equality.
I will close here. I thank MoWA for organizing today’s event. And I would like to highlight that I am especially happy to see so many young people here today. You are Cambodia’s future - and I am certain that you will contribute to lasting social change, and delivering gender equality and ending violence against women.
Thank you very much!