At SAME-Cambodia, our philosophy is to respect oneself, respect one another. The Cambodian culture manifests itself on a culture of respect; particularly for their elders and those who have shaped the society in which they live today. Cambodians show their respect through customs and language. Addressing elders in the correct manner is extremely important to tradition. The head of the body is considered the highest point and therefore a sacred part of the body. One must not touch or pat another on the crown of the head for this reason.
SAME-Cambodia recognizes the importance placed upon educating youth about respect for others from an early age. It is SAME-Cambodia’s mission to continue this passion for respect throughout society to those who do not enjoy it as much.
Domestic violence is widely accepted as part of life in Cambodian society and within households, mostly due to the education system. For generations, gender rule books were taught nationwide as part of the school curriculum in which boys and girls learned about the characteristics of strength and power which included the use of violence and abuse. As education is evidently a powerful tool in this society, SAME-Cambodia is assured that its prevention programme will successfully reach its target audience efficiently.
SAME-Cambodia endeavors to teach young males about gender based violence as well as young females. This co-educational programme will prove effective because boys and girls will learn to listen to each other and empathize with one another. Instead of reading how they should feel from a book, they will learn to take responsibility for their actions and reactions in their relationships.
By first opening the discussion about respect and responsibility, students will gain an insight into their human rights as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. They will be challenged with exercises that require them to explore and build their own beliefs and opinions.
The concepts of discrimination, racism and inequality will open the discussion to the importance of equity in society and worldwide. SAME-Cambodia’s programme will sensitively approach the topic of gender and how this is interpreted universally including the challenges that both men and women face today. The students will learn to infuse the topics of gender and respect for human rights in order to recognize the importance of equality.
By encouraging the recognition of women’s contributions to society, students will be encouraged to challenge the issues related to the objectification of women. The idea that girls can be used for sexual gratification may be eliminated in this process. Girls too will recognize the battle they collectively face for equality and empowerment in society, whether they live in rural or urban areas. They will be equipped with the tools to demand respect instead of taking a passive approach as they have been so successfully taught to do for generations.
Sexual abuse is not only a challenge for girls, but for boys too and it is imperative that we open this discussion for students. The stigmatization of male ‘weakness’ in Cambodian society today must be challenged. Teaching both boys and girls to recognize it will assist in its prevention as both boys and girls will be able to recognize consent and inappropriate sexual actions. Giving them the tools to report it will deter perpetrators from victimizing them also.
The post-traumatic stress from recent years of genocide remains a demonstrable issue in households today and is arguably one of the most influential factors in the acceptance of violence today. Silence, fear and control are the shadows that we want to chase out of violent homes by turning the light on over these issues in the classroom.
SAME-Cambodia stands behind the belief that for gender based violence to be ended and equality to be maintained, both men and women, boys and girls must be active in the process of achieving it.