Understanding Family Violence in Cambodia

A Background Study by David & Holly Ketchum

Peace Bridges, Phnom Penh, Cambodia,

March 2008 (Revised June 2008)

Overview of the project:

Peace Bridges is a strategic partner of the Evangelical Fellowship of Cambodia (EFC) that provides training and services in conflict prevention and transformation, primarily within the Christian community. This background study is part of a larger inquiry process with the following parameters:

i) current violence prevention programs in Cambodia,

ii) the needs of key partners,

iii) and the specialist resources of Peace Bridges and staff training needs.

The end purpose of this inquiry is the consideration of the validity of Peace Bridges offering an advanced training component in violence prevention strategies for peace builders who have completed the certificate training in conflict counseling and partner organizations.

This study provides a foundation for understanding what needs and opportunities exist in Cambodia relating to factors and incidents of violent acts in the home. It attempts to synthesize and analyze representative literature, as well as provide a bibliography of articles and books that will be helpful in clarifying issues, understanding trends, and recognizing programs related to violence prevention in Cambodia.

Rationale for the project:

Violence in the home has been a growing concern in Cambodia and the focus of various studies and programs, even at the highest levels of government (i.e., the establishment of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs). Through the intentional work and education of various organizations, addressing violence in the home has become more culturally appropriate. However, studies continue to show a significant rate of incidence in Cambodian families. Peace Bridges is responding to an expressed need for more explicit training for families, churches and other community groups to respond to the fact of violence in their homes and communities.

Scope of the Review:

This study combines print and electronic resources from both North American and Southeast Asian/Cambodian contexts. Because the availability of clinical studies is limited in the Cambodian context, resources from a western perspective provide clues for patterns of violent behavior that might be found in Cambodia. We will attempt to balance cultural differences with human commonality.

Special Notes & Considerations:

This study serves a double purpose. First, it is preparation for Peace Bridges' staff to interact with leaders and participants at organizations providing programs and services related to violence in the home as they complete the research inquiry. Second, it will provide a basic document indicating areas that could be addressed to create awareness and educate local peacebuilders about the issues surrounding domestic violence.

The study is also limited by two important considerations. First, Peace Bridges provides education and consultancies in addressing and transforming conflict, not in psychological and sociological services. As such, the study is meant to provide material that can be relevant and adaptable to practitioners and peacebuilders working in their communities; it is not intended to substitute, but rather to complement, the valuable work of social scientists. Second, and in relation to the first, materials used in the study were often chosen based on their availability in Cambodia. Literature available locally or online was given preference to hard-to-find specialist or expensive literature. Most of the sources used are also available at Peace Bridges’ electronic and print library, where it can be accessed by peacebuilders.

Peace Bridges is happy to contribute this document as our first step in engaging these issues and as a tool for equipping community peacebuilders wanting a better understanding of family violence. We hope to update this document as we discover more studies, interact with service providers, and participate in research.

Please send recommendations of studies and resources to be included in future revisions, as well as comments and corrections to:

Peace Bridges

#73 Street 608 Toul Kork

P.O Box 1523

Phnom Penh, Cambodia

office: 023 880 100

e-mail: **


Section 1: Basic Understandings of Violence in the Home
1.1 Defining Violence in the Home
1.2 The Cycle of Violence
1.3 How Violence in the Home Affects Women
1.4 How Violence in the Home Affects Men
1.5 How Violence in the Home Affects Children
1.6 Special Considerations for Peace Bridges

Section 2: Domestic Violence in Cambodia
2.1 Cultural Factors in Understanding Violence in the Home
2.2 Cambodian Cultural Factors
2.3 Cambodian Definitions and Legislation
2.4 How Violence in the Home Affects Women
2.5 How Violence in the Home Affects Men
2.6 How Violence in the Home Affects Children
2.7 Special Considerations for Peace Bridges
Appendix: Summary of Key Points Regarding the Domestic Violence Law and the Law on Marriage and Family


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