Washington International Law Journal


Despite numerous laws that guarantee women equal rights and prohibit violence, the current Cambodian legal system has proven inadequate to combat spousal abuse. In response, the Royal Government of Cambodia has proposed a draft-law specifically aimed at domestic violence. However, if enforcement of current Cambodian law in domestic violence situations is any indication, the proposed law has little hope of implementation. Current cultural paradigms make the Cambodian police and the public at large view domestic violence as a private matter rather than a crime. Thus, Cambodia is in need of new strategies to reduce domestic violence. Cambodia is not alone in its effort against domestic violence. Many countries worldwide struggle with spousal abuse. Notably, the United States has been working for over forty years to reduce domestic violence and has succeeded in several key areas. Cambodia should consider implementing a synthesized strategy of providing services to victims and criminalizing abusive behaviors based on the American model. Private efforts to provide victim's services should be dispersed throughout the country and the government should make direct efforts to support these services in any way possible. The government should also secure passage of the draft-law with as much publicity as possible in order to spark public debate and provide education on the issue of domestic violence. Criminalization efforts should initially focus on encouraging law enforcement intervention, followed by mandatory prosecution strategies and the enforcement of civil protection orders. The good, bad, and unintended consequences of the American struggle with domestic violence offer several possible strategies for Cambodian reform.

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