The Ministry of Women’s Affairs has noted positive changes in the media regarding their coverage of violence against women. The ministry also urged social media users to take part in a 16-day campaign to end violence against women.

The assessment was made by a team from the ministry, who monitored media coverage over the previous three months, according to its December 5 press statement.

The assessment came as the government, ActionAid Cambodia, Gender and Development in Cambodia, and other partners co-launched a digital campaign of media significance to curb violence against women and young girls. The 16-day campaign will run from November 25 to December 10.

“We noted that of the 12 media outlets surveyed, most have made positive changes over the last three months. They are abiding by the code of conduct better, by curtailing the identification of victims and providing less graphic detail,” the statement said.

In the past, some outlets had mocked the victims of crimes or focused on the details of offending, both of which are detrimental to the well being of victims. Their respect for the rights and dignity of both victims and suspects has improved, it added.

The ministry warned that despite the positive changes, some journalists continued to report the news without protecting victims’ identities. In addition, they do not appear to have considered the harm their mocking headlines may be having on efforts to change the attitude of some members of the public to these types of crimes.

“Our team has identified some issues with online news outlets, especially websites which are not registered with the Ministry of Information and certain other online journalists who lack professionalism,” it said.

“With that being said, we have also recorded members of the public responding to negative reporting, and this has gone some way to encouraging more care among reporters,” it added.

The ministry issued a code of conduct for media outlets reporting on violence against women in 2017, in an effort to rein in journalistic practices that experts say harmed and often demeaned victims.

The Ministry of Information, the Club of Cambodian Journalists (CCJ), educational establishments, national and private radio stations and relevant civil society organisations, and women’s affairs ministry had established a monitoring body to follow up on the implementation of the code of conduct.

Chhun Hak, deputy director-general of Gender Equality and Economic Development at the women’s affairs ministry, said his team would look into the possibility of establishing more concrete measures. It may issue warning letters to media outlets that do not follow the code of conduct, as they have a serious impact on both victims and societal values.

He added that to contribute to the 16-day campaign, his team had launched the digital campaign on the social media channels and pages of the ministry and its partners.

“We have produced videos on public viewpoints and posters, along with producing radio programmes. I call on all social media users and media outlets to take part in this campaign,” he concluded.