Taking a message of hope and strength to the streets of Phnom Penh, the SKO team marched with over 300 women in Celebration of International Women’s Day and in protest of illegal land evictions and domestic violence. SKO helped to sponsor the day’s festivities, led by the women affected by the Boeung Kak Lake and Borei Keila land grabs, which shut down main roads and was met by 100 military and national police forces who halted the procession due to traffic congestion. The women, who have continually faced police brutality for their frequent demonstrations against land evictions, donned traditional dresses to emphasize their positions as Cambodian women.
The walk, which started and ended at the Boeung Kak community, was an emotionally charged mixture of powerful messages, songs condemning violence and pleas to the government. The central message was clear: end violence against women.
In the afternoon the SK team joined a campaign to bring attention to danger of violence against women. The campaign was organized by a group of passionate NGOs and students. The group of young Cambodian women who lead the campaign were devastated to see the domestic and state violence that is committed against women and felt that promoting advocacy would be the most effective tool in helping to ignite change.
Many of the women (and male youth too!) decided to make outfits out of rubbish to show the damage that victims of violence constantly carry around with them. They also carried signs with photos of women and had community members help smear paint (representing blood) on the photos after learning about the lasting negative impacts a victim of violence suffers.
The SK team traveled along with the group, stopping to talk to community members to spread information about violence and resources available to help those who have suffered.
There were five main initiatives that the group hoped to accomplish:
- Promote knowledge of women’s rights in celebration of International Women’s Day.
- Encourage a stop to all violence against women and letting those who are victims know they are not alone.
- Encourage strength and bravery to help women speak out about domestic violence.
- Gain attention and support of all Cambodians to the importance of the issue.
- Assert a plea for the government to start acknowledging the importance of gender equality on all levels.
This morning, a press conference was held to discuss the event and goals of the independent movement.