Men Sam An, a member of the Supreme Privy Council to the King and head of the Cambodian Women for Peace and Development (CWPD), urged women to be more cautious and thoughtful when using digital devices, in order avoid falling prey to online scams. 

Her appeal was made as the association gears up for the forthcoming 113th International Women’s Day, observed annually on March 8. This year’s theme is: “Women and Girls in the Digital Environment”, as reported on her social media.

Sam An stressed the importance of unlocking the potential of women in the digital sector and encouraging their participation.

She explained that this is crucial for adapting to an evolving societal context, and also aligns with the initial phase of the Pentagonal Strategy, which aims to promote gender equality and empower women.

She noted growing risks in an era where technology is rapidly advancing, particularly through online scams.

“Internet users should pay close attention to using digital tools in a highly responsible and thoughtful manner. Technology may facilitate many daily tasks, but it can also pose problems if used carelessly,” she added.

Sam An advised users to approach technology with caution, warning against the lure of profit that could see them fall into online traps. 

Sek Socheat, co-founder of the Mindset Development Organisation and an IT expert, noted that the general public tends to be less cautious when using online resources. 

He warned that technology could bring misfortune if its use is not properly understood.

“Many women, especially young girls, are vulnerable to online predators or scammers, which can lead to circumstances that damage their honour or dignity. Beyond this, verbal persecution and the use of compromising images can victimise them, leaving them afraid to report wrongdoing. As a result, they may become the target of blackmail or be coerced into actions that harm their virtue,” he explained.

Socheat warned of the increasing prevalence of online scams such as fraudulent monetary claims, and highlighted the importance of instruction, orientation and digital literacy for everyone, not just women. 

He suggested that the government and other relevant organisations develop protection policies and introduce additional mechanisms to combat cybercrime, along with providing additional training and education to help address the challenges and risks associated with online scams.

Eng Chandy, executive director of the NGO Gender and Development for Cambodia (GADC), acknowledged that online gender abuse appears to be on the rise.

“Women and girls are vulnerable … sometimes because of a lack of understanding of [security features]. Even those with advanced education may not know how to use them properly. Some users, whose only experience is with mobile phones, may struggle to manage advanced safety systems,” she said.

Chandy expressed a desire to see industry stakeholders expand the reach of online protective systems. She suggested that digital safety information, particularly in Khmer, should be made more accessible to the public, especially women. 

She also called for the establishment of legal procedures to assist victims of online abuse more effectively, both in terms of reporting and response.