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Gender Roles in Cambodia. Presented by: Nan, Erin, Millie, and Darren. Introduction to Cambodia. Borders: Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam Before 1970 Cambodia was fairly rich in natural and agricultural resources.

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gender roles in cambodia

Gender Roles in Cambodia

Presented by:

Nan, Erin, Millie, and Darren

introduction to cambodia
Introduction to Cambodia
  • Borders: Thailand, Laos, and Vietnam
  • Before 1970 Cambodia was fairly rich in natural and agricultural resources.
  • Many people lived in small villages near waterways, the majority working in agriculture.
  • Traditionally, high status was given only to Buddhist monks and important government officials.
  • Traditional values included a strong family identity, respect for ancestors and the past and a desire for smooth interpersonal relationships, i.e., non-confrontational in disagreement, tolerance for ambiguity, and willingness to accept things the way they are
destruction of a culture
Destruction of a Culture
  • In 1975, the Khmer Rouge overthrew the government and abolished the monarchy. They began to systematically eliminate the Cambodian population in a reign of terror lasting from 1975 to 1979.
  • An estimated 1.5 to 3.0 million Cambodians, or 20% to 40% of the total population died.
  • The first to be killed were Buddhist monks, urban dwellers, government officials, and people with Western educations.
  • The purpose of this revolutionary movement was to make a new society in which all past influences were destroyed. Not only were millions of people killed, the Cambodian culture was largely destroyed.
women s rights movement
Women’s Rights Movement
  • UN Elections
    • In September 1993 the government ratified a new constitution restoring the monarchy and establishing the Kingdom of Cambodia.
  • Women Gained the Vote (Suffrage)
    • More equality between the sexes in the cities.
    • Women enjoy more freedom than before
gender roles
Gender Roles
  • Cambodia is a male-dominated society and females are expected to conform to traditions.
  • Girls are compared to a piece or cotton wool.
  • Boy are compared to a diamond.
  • Cotton or wool, when dropped into mud, never regains its purity regardless of how much it is washed.
  • A diamond dropped into mud, can be picked up, washed and become as clean and sparkling as before it got dirty.
city vs country culture
City vs Country Culture
  • Culture in the Cambodian Countryside is very traditional.
    • Men work in the fields and women care for the house and young children.
    • Women discouraged from education
  • Cambodian City life has become much more like today’s modern western culture.
    • Women are much closer to holding equal status with the men
    • Many old traditions regarding women are no longer forced
    • Education for women is valued
virtuous girls
Virtuous Girls
  • A girl is expected to obey her parents and elders, to be gentle and softly spoken.
  • Traditional Cambodian culture expects a girl to behave according to social norms and to avoid any transgression that could be branded as ‘dirty’.
  • A girl is taught that virtuous behavior includes not crying or screaming during labor, and not complaining when abused by spouse, parents, or elders.
ostentatious boys
Ostentatious Boys
  • Boys are expected to get into trouble.
    • Traditional Cambodian culture expects a boys to not behave according to social norms and to transgress but that they can redeem themselves easily.
  • A boy is taught that his behavior is a display of his strength and power.
    • Appearance is everything. The show of wealth is often expressed through material belongings.
  • More commonly accepted from men than from women
    • Women are not allowed to play any contact sports
    • Women’s physical activity is done at night out of public view.
    • Men play important roles both publicly as well as privately in the house.
    • Very few things are taboo for men
domestic violence
Domestic Violence
  • Most often the violence is perpetrated in public.
    • Typically the police or the community gives little help to the victims.
    • Police intervene only in the case of the severe injuries or death, as there is no law specifically against domestic violence.
    • The attitude of society compounds this problem.
    • Cambodians consider domestic violence as a private and family matter.
    • Women most often are blamed for instigating the violence by not properly behaving or providing sex to their husbands.

As a Cambodian woman lamented, “If there are thirty days in a month, it seems as if my husband hits me sixty. My neighbors know he hits me at night. They always think it is a dispute over intercourse. The neighbors often advise me, ‘If your husband wants to have sex, you must give it to him. If you don't, he will hit you.’”

decline of the marriage
Decline of the Marriage
  • Thirty years of destructive wars and extreme violence took its toll on families and traditional behavior.
  • Economic hardship has compounded the problem as many men leave the villages to go where they might find work.
  • Partners/families outside of the legal marriage and the desertion of wives and children have become common social illnesses in Cambodia.
  • Statistically, the divorce rate in Cambodia remains low.
    • According to the Cambodia National Institute of Statistics, the divorce rate as of 1998 is 2.4%.
    • This low rate is in large part due to culture, which discourages divorce.
  • Divorce is a shameful affair, especially for women.
    • Social tradition and today's family laws encourage reconciliation rather than divorce, even when one partner is at serious physical or psychological risk.
    • The rate is also low because the poor women have limited access to the legal system.
acid attack
Acid Attack
  • The indiscriminate killing of men during the Khmer Rouge reign have created a population imbalance between men and women.
    • Social, financial and emotional pressures force widows as well as single women and girls to accept partners, even married ones.
    • Many children are born out of wedlock. Jealous rage and fighting among women for one man is frequent.
  • The fighting is vicious. Recently, there have been cases of women resorting to a violent tactic known as ‘acid attack’.
    • A jealous wife splashes nitric acid on her husband's mistress.
    • The intention of the attack is not to kill, but to disfigure, the victim.
    • This happens at all levels of society.