The UN Population Fund (UNFPA) and the Japan-based Wesley Zaidan Foundation are piloting a digital platform to support women who are victims of violence.

Last week, UNFPA and the foundation hosted a discussion on the progress, challenges and strategies of the project, which is scheduled to run until 2024. The messaging app provides information on services and support to women and girls who experience violence. The discussion was attended by the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Transcultural Psychosocial Organisation (TPO) Cambodia and youth representatives.

The discussion highlighted the progress, challenges and strategies towards the development of mobile applications that will provide information on services and support for women and girls who face violence, harassment and abuse.

Nhean Sochetra, head of the ministry’s General Department of Social Development, said there were several challenges that need to be overcome.

She thanked the foundation for its support of the project, which recommends some of the services that are available from the ministry to victims of violence. She said the project is being piloted in Phnom Penh, among young people at universities and some factory workers.

“We are in the process of updating the message app so that people who report violence will be aware of all of the support services which we can make available to them,” she said.

Mao Mab, head of Women’s and Children’s Rights division at local rights group ADHOC, said such a digital app could be a very useful tool for making sure people could access support, though she was curious as to which institutions would be responsible for monitoring the messages that are sent.

“Smartphone saturation is dense throughout the Kingdom, even in the countryside. The important thing is to advertise the app so that as many women and girls know about it as possible, and can ask for help or find out where to go for support,” she said.

“In order for the message app to be effective, there need to be clearly defined privacy protection mechanisms in place. In addition, a designated team must be responsible for monitoring the app and reviewing all calls and messages as promptly as possible,” she continued.