Plan International Cambodia (PIC) has launched the “Switch My Safety On” campaign to raise public awareness and end harassment against girls and women in public spaces.

Yi Kimthan, deputy country director at PIC, stated on December 7 that the effort is part of a 16-day global initiative to end violence against women, conducted worldwide each year.

He explained that the objective is to raise public awareness, urging participation from parents, authorities and the entire population to ensure that girls and women are as safe as boys and men. 

He emphasised that the initiative is particularly focused on the elimination of harassment in places such as streets, parks, public transportation, taxis, shopping malls and entertainment venues.

Kimthan noted that discrimination, stigma and sexual harassment are prevalent issues, especially against females. He observed that they often face disgraceful comments and inappropriate remarks about their attire, such as when wearing short pants or skirts.

“In Cambodia, some streets are still unsafe for girls and women. Through this campaign, we want authorities and the public to value and ensure [their] safety, enabling them to feel as secure in public places as boys or men,” he stated.

According to Kimthan, the campaign includes an online component that features videos of individuals who have experienced harassment. These aim to engage the citizenry in efforts to make public spaces safer and more welcoming for women, enabling them to move freely and confidently.

He added that ensuring their safety contributes to stopping all forms of public abuse, whether through gestures, words or eye contact, creating a safer community.

Sar Sineth, deputy secretary-general of Social Development at the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, highlighted the significance of various groups participating in the prevention and elimination of gender-based violence.

“The actions taken by these organisations are part of the campaign to stop violence against women and girls, which we conduct annually,” she said.

This year, civil society organisations, along with the ministry, are implementing the effort under the theme, “UNITE! Invest to prevent violence against women and girls”.

A 2021 report by Action Aid, an international anti-poverty agency, revealed that the average number of rapes, domestic violence cases and attacks on women and children reported by official media ranges between 35 and 40 incidents per month.