Location: Kampong Chhnang village 1, Battambang province
Summary: Nong Nart and Chorsup Guan work together to fight gender-based violence in their community.
Together, neighbours Nong Nart and Guan Chorsup play an important part in their community’s fight against gender-based violence. Elected as volunteer gender peace network (GPN) co-ordinators in their village, Nart and Chorsup promote gender equality, raise awareness about gender-based violence, help to solve domestic disputes and intervene in cases of violence and abuse, working closely with local authorities and the police.
“We conduct meetings to build awareness around the laws surrounding domestic violence and to discuss issues within the community,” says Nart. In addition, they provide counselling to families involved in conflict to help them to find peaceful ways to deal with their issues.
As GPN co-ordinators, Nart and Chorsup feel confident to assist abused women and influence violent men involved in gender-based violence, having received comprehensive training and regular support from Banteay Srei. “In cases of verbal violence, we try to calm the family down and try to find out the root cause of the problem. In physical violence cases, we remove the woman and contact the local authorities” Nart explains. Last month, Chorsup intervened in a serious case of domestic violence in a nearby village, taking the survivor to the hospital and then on to Banteay Srei’s safe house where she received access to legal support and counselling.
“It is difficult sometimes to talk to men about violence as they think it is normal and a private family problem and so they do not want to talk with me,” explains Chorsup. When he first became a GPN co-ordinator and started talking to men in his community Chorsup was met with indifference. However, after perseverance he has managed to build good relationships with his neighbours, who now come to him for advice. “I provide advice to male perpetrators of violence and tell them they should talk through their issues and not be violent and help them to realise they can change,” Chorsup explains.
Through their work as volunteer GPN co-ordinators, Nart and Chorsup’s own opinions and behaviour have also changed. “Before in my family I used to be violent with my children sometimes. But now I know this is not the way and I help my community to understand,” says Nart.