During its 16 Days of Activism campaign last year, This Life Cambodia (TLC) made a short film entitled Virtual Reality: Violence is not a game to raise awareness about the consequences of domestic violence.
The film shows a man playing a VR game and losing when the female character is beaten to death by her husband at home highlighting the fact that violence is not a game, but rather a sad reality for many women in Cambodia.
Today TLC – a community development NGO based in Siem Reap – received a gold award for the innovative campaign centred on the film.
The campaign won the Asia-Pacific Stevie award for innovation in cause-related videos, determined by averaging the scores of more than 100 executives around the world acting as judges in March and April.
This year there were more than 900 nominations from organisations with all 29 nations of the Asia-Pacific region taking part. The Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards are the only business awards programme to recognise innovation in the workplace.
“I’d really love to give a shout out to the influencers who participated in the campaign. They really added so much value and deserve recognition as well,” says Billy Gorter, This Life’s executive director. “We had a positive response in relation to engagement with ambassadors to Cambodia from Australia and the UK participating in the campaign alongside several Cambodian influencers.”
Gorter also thanked three prominent influencers – Catherine Harry, GiGi and Sethneary – who shared their reaction videos and messages supporting the campaign with the Cambodian public.
He said that the involvement of these influencers generated an active dialogue across all age groups and amplified the message to reach hundreds of thousands of Cambodians.
“We really appreciate influencers using their voice to strengthen the campaign’s impact and empower vulnerable women and children in every corner of the country. Thank you so much,” Gorter added.
The award-winning campaign’s main objective was to encourage individuals, communities and local authorities to take action and come together to support women experiencing violence.
This Life wanted to create an engaging campaign and video where Cambodians could see and understand the reality and impact of gender-based violence on women and children and be provided with concrete actions they could take to stop it.
The campaign resulted in a powerful call to action that encouraged family, friends and neighbours to “Reach Out, Check-in and Act” to ensure that women are safe.
“Our call to action raised awareness of gender-based violence, engaged community members, and inspired influencers and international ambassadors to share their thoughts, which encouraged people to act,” said Gorter, also This Life’s founder. “We also wanted to provide support to women by giving them useful information on who they could reach out to for support and useful tips on how people could support women experiencing domestic violence.”
For the past 14 years, This Life has been asking Cambodian communities about the most serious challenges they face and domestic violence has always been one of the top three things they were most concerned about, according to the NGO.
Gorter said that this is no surprise – one in three Cambodian men admit to having used violence against a partner in the past, indicating the scale of the problem.
Of the women who experience violence, just 24 per cent seek any help – perhaps because a shockingly low 8 per cent of Cambodians are even aware that domestic violence is a crime, he added.
“In Cambodia, traditional culture is underpinned by the idea that violence against women is an acceptable act within families. Our research revealed that 66 per cent of the population believe it to be a private matter which should not be discussed outside the family home,” said Borany Chea, who is This Life’s section lead for their This Life Without Violence campaign.
“We know that this violence blights whole families and prevents whole communities from reaching their potential. Our approach emphasises collaborative partnerships,” she said. “We work hand-in-hand with community leaders, social workers, and local authorities such as the police. This ensures that they are ready to assist those families dealing with violence. We also provide case management support and run support groups.”
She said that to win an award in this context is incredibly special and it reinforced the importance of the work they were doing to fight domestic violence in Cambodia.
The one minute and 36 second film released on Facebook on November 24, 2021, received over 2.5 million views, exceeding This Life’s goal to reach 2 million views. This was a 66 per cent increase in views over their previous campaign.
The Facebook post reached nearly 4.5 million people or more than a quarter of the Cambodian population while 14,000 people clicking on the linked resources to learn more, according to This Life.
Gorter said domestic violence isn’t just a Cambodian problem, it’s a global problem. Research shows that one in three women across the world face violence at some point in their lifetime.
“We all need to work together, to say that we won’t tolerate this – not in Cambodia, not in any country. We’re glad that this message is being shared in huge numbers – though there’s a long way to go, this is a big step forward,” Gorter said. “Domestic violence remains a critical issue in Cambodia, and This Life will work tirelessly to ensure that it remains a part of the national dialogue until it becomes a thing of the past.”
Over the past three years, This Life Cambodia has won several international awards for its interactive and integrated activism campaigns that have challenged societal norms and traditional Cambodian cultural attitudes about violence against women.
Stevie Awards president Maggie Miller said that the ninth edition of the Asia-Pacific Stevie Awards attracted many remarkable nominations.
“The organisations that won this year have demonstrated that they have continued to innovate and succeed despite the Covid-19 pandemic, and we applaud them for their perseverance and creativity. We look forward to celebrating many of this year’s winners during our virtual awards ceremony on June 29,” she said.
For more details, visit This Life’s Facebook and website: @thislifecambodia https://thislife.ngo/act