Victims Support Section of the ECCC secures funds from UN Trust Fund to End Violence against Women (UNTF) for a three-year project to support female Civil Parties and victims of Gender Based Violence of the Khmer Rouge regime
Victims Support Section (VSS) of the ECCC, in cooperation with Transcultural Psychosocial Organization (TPO) will carry out the second-phase of its project entitled “Promoting Gender Equality and Improving Access of Justice for Female and Gender-based Violence (GBV) Survivors of the Khmer Rouge (KR) Regime.”
The UNTF/UN Women has provided the VSS/ECCC with a USD 1 million grant to be implemented over the three year duration of the project, commencing January 2016 under the non-judicial measures (NJM) framework of the VSS/ECCC. The objective of the project is to ensure that female civil parties, in particularly GBV survivors of the KR, have access to justice and are satisfied with the redress by the end 2018. The projectl contributes to the overarching goal of UN Women to prevent and end violence against women and young girls in today’s society.
The first-phase of the project, implemented from 2011 to 2014, made significant progress and had positive impacts on female and GBV survivors of the Khmer Rouge regime. The project succesfully brought issues of GBV to the attention of the public and made victims’ voices heard, reaching approximately 800 Civil Parties through participation in various activities. These activities include forums, workshops, testimonial therapies, women’s hearings, self-help groups and forum theatres. For more information, please go to: www.gbvkr.org .
During the second-phase of implementation, the VSS will carry out a wide variety of activities including: gender-sensitivity training, regional and national women hearings, public forums, radio-call-in shows, vocational training, civil parties’ participation in ECCC hearings, legal representation, and will continue to raise awareness of violence against women committed during the Khmer Rouge regime. TPO will carry-out psychological interventions with Civil Parties in various provinces in Cambodia.
The VSS is an official organ of the ECCC and is mandated to facilitate and coordinate victims’ participation in the ECCC’s proceedings. Furthermore, the VSS is mandated to work in cooperation with governmental and non-governmental organizations to develop projects that benefit CPs as well as victims of the KR in general. The VSS has thus far implemented and coordinated three non-judicial projects as the following:
- Promoting gender equality and improving access to justice for female and GBV survivors under the KR Regime (Phase I), funded by UN Women/UNTF (2011-2014)
- Peace Learning Center in Kraing Tachan, Takeo province, funded by German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (2014)
- Memorial to the Victims of Democratic Kampuchea at Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum, funded by German Ministry of Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ) (2015)
Mrs. KEO Er, a victim from Svay Rieng province, who joined a self-help group:
Before joining this project, I felt isolated and afraid of talking about the experiences I had had during the Khmer Rouge regime. No one encouraged and supported me to talk about the problem and the fear that I have. I thought that I was the only person who faced these problems. Yet, after I participated in a self-help group, I felt relieved, more confident, and happy to share my story within the group. I am not the only one, but also many people had the same problem; we shared it with each other, and we did the meditation and developed a way to address our situations. This project helped me a lot.
Mrs. PO Dina, a victim from Kampong Speu province, who joined forums and hearings:
As a civil party before ECCC, I attended hearings at the ECCC through a good assistance from VSS and I felt much relieved after that. I used to feel tensed whenever I thought of the Khmer Rouge regime. I used to join meetings in Kampot province and Phnom Penh. I met and shared experiences with other victims who came from different provinces. In addition to this, I was informed by my lawyer about the development of forced marriage under the Khmer Rouge regime case
Dr. Chhim Sotheara, Executive Director of TPO:
Many survivors of sexual violence under the KR have been living with their emotional scars and in isolation for a long time. Self-help groups create a safe and supportive space for them to share their stories with other survivors for the first time after more than 30 years. These enables many survivors build confidence and are able to testify against former KR leaders at the ECCC.
Many survivors realize that they are not the only one who suffer from this problem in isolation, many other members in the self-help groups are also suffering from this problem. Through speaking and sharing their stories in the group, their confidence were built so that they can break their silence which then leads to healing their psychological scars.
Mr. Long Khet, Executive Director of Youth for Peace:
I think that this project is very important in the fact that it provides platform to address GBV in past conflict and violence. It helps build social resilience among GBV victim-survivors in order for them to fight against social stigmatization and discrimination in society for their betterments through publicly acknowledging their suffering, their strength and courage. It also seeks to empower GBV survivors by giving them a voice to break silence surrounding these crimes and express their needs and demands. The awareness-raising of the impacts they face and their concerns in a safe and responsive manner will help them heal their wounds. Documenting survivor experiences will create an accurate historical record and it becomes a tool for the prevention of mass atrocity and gross human rights violation in the future in Cambodia as well as in the world.
Mr. Hang Vannak
Chief of VSS
Tel: 855 (0) 23 861500