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តើប្រទេសកម្ពុជាគួតែដាក់បញ្ចូលមុខវិជ្ជាវិទ្យាសាស្ត្រនយោបាយ ចូលក្នុងកម្មវិធីសិក្សាថ្នាក់វិទ្យាល័យដែរឬទេ?

សូមស្វាគមន៍មកកាន់ការតទល់មតិរបស់កាហ្វេនយោបាយ! នេះគឺជាការធ្វើការតទល់មតិលើកទី១របស់យើង​​​ ហើយប្រធានបទគឺ៖​ «តើប្រទេសកម្ពុជា​គួតែដាក់បញ្ចូល​ មុខវិជ្ជាវិទ្យាសាស្រ្តនយោបាយ​ ចូលក្នុងកម្មវិធីសិក្សាថ្នាក់វិទ្យាល័យដែរឬទេ?» ដែលមានវត្តមាន​ កញ្ញា​ សាមឿត ស៊ាវម៉េង​ ខាងស្រប​ និង លោក វណ្ណ​ ប៊ុនណា​ ខាងបដិសេធ ដោយម្នាក់ៗ​ជ្រើសរើសយកទឡ្ហីករណ៍តែចំនួន៣ប៉ុណ្ណោះ​ យកមកបកស្រាយ។ សូមបញ្ចាក់ផងដែរថា ទឡ្ហីករណ៍ដែលពួកគាត់បានយកមកដេញដោលនេះ មិនមែនជាមតិផ្ទាល់ខ្លួនរបស់គាត់នោះទេ ដោយសាតែយើងត្រូវកំណត់ឲ្យមានអ្នកស្រប និងអ្នកបដិសេធ។ គោលបំណងនៃការតទល់មតិ គឺដើម្បីលើកកម្នូពស់នូវវប្បធម៌សន្ទនាប្រជាធិបតេយ្យក្នុងចំណោមយុវជននៅកម្ពុជា។ សូមអានការដេញដោលមតិនេះឲ្យបានល្អិតល្អន់ជាមុនសិន​ មុននឹងអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នាបោះឆ្នោតឲ្យបេក្ខជនរបស់យើង។​ នេះដោយសារតែអ្នកទាំងអស់គ្នាអាចបោះឆ្នោត​ បានតែម្ដងប៉ុណ្ណោះ ដោយប្រើប្រាស់គណនីហ្វេសប៊ុក។​ ក្រុមកាហ្វេនយោបាយ​ មិនមានសិទ្ធិនិងមិនអាចដឹងបានទេ​ថា អ្នកណាបានបោះឆ្នោតបេក្ខជនមួយណា។​ ការបោះឆ្នោត គឺអនាមិកទាំងអស់! រយ:ពេលនៃការបោះឆ្នោត​ គឺពីរសប្ដាហ៍ ហើយអ្នកដែលទទួលបានភាគរយច្រើនជាង​ គាត់គឺអ្នកឈ្នះ។ អ្នកអាចចូលរួមបញ្ចេញមតិយោបល់ទៅលើការដេញដោលនេះ នៅខាងក្រោមបាន!

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Why Critical Thinking Is Important for Cambodians in Digital Age

Written by: Ly Houv, a 4th year student majoring in International Studies at The Royal University of Phnom Penh Edited by: Sao Phal Niseiy, Editor-in-Chief at The Cambodianess and Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Thmey Thmey News (Photo credit: "More than 250 young Cambodians who received a 'Grade A' on the 2016 National High School Exam visited the Embassy on Sunday for a special event to promote study in the United States." by USEmbassyPhnomPenh is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0)   The digital information age is one of the best moments in this century. People can get information much faster and easier than ever before. Previously, people received information through radio, newspaper, TV, and other channels. It took time and was insufficient if compared to the present digital information. Thanks to technological advancement, people can now access as much information as they want by just simply taking out their smartphones and searching for it on the internet.  We are indeed living in an era in which information is widely available and accessible. When we have a question or problem, our first solution is to google it or to watch YouTube and learn how to do it. It completely changes the traditional way of how we obtain information and knowledge. The presence of the internet has provided us with a more responsive and convenient search engine. It has made our life easier when it comes to acquiring new information.  But when information is superfluous, it also becomes troublesome for us to identify and analyze which information is reliable and credible. As we know, with the help of technology, anyone can publish any information on social media platforms and websites. It is tricky to verify the quality of such information. As a result, false information, fake news and propaganda have been often taken by many, affecting their ability to make a good decision.  I think there need to be some interventions to help people do better while consuming information. One of the interventions is to help people develop their critical thinking. With this skill, people will be able to tackle all of these digital information concerns.  What is critical thinking? So, what is critical thinking, exactly? Critical thinking is the general term for a wide range of cognitive skills and intellectual dispositions. People need this ability to identify, analyze and evaluate argument and truth claims effectively, allowing them to find out and overcome personal biases. People with critical skills can provide and confer convincing reasons to support their claims and make a reasonable and intelligent decision on what to believe and what to do.  For example, when people were young, they tended to be passive learners rather than active ones. It is supposed that they absorb and memorize the lessons and paste them back into the exams. In contrast, it is more open at the university level as students tend to become more active in learning. The main goal is to teach students how to think rather than what to think. That is how to become independent and self-directed thinkers and learners.  I am not an expert in critical thinking, but I know this is one of the most valuable skills we use in every aspect of life. Therefore, I want to share some of my experience and perspectives on critical thinking capacity and why I found it crucial.  As a social science student, critical thinking is a required skill in our academic journey. Following this discipline, I need to read and research most of the time to understand the lessons and complete the assignments. One of the examples, in the research process, it is not ideal to rely only on one source and use it as core information in your research paper. So that it requires us to extract information from many different sources as we want to guarantee credibility and reliability. In addition, I also have to learn a lot of political and economic theories throughout my courses. Thus, with a critical thinking mind, I can analyze every theory more effectively and systematically. Meanwhile, I also can apply this skill to explain international events using abstract theories.  Why is this skill important for Cambodians?  In Cambodia, there is a rapid increase in internet users. According to a BBC Media Action report in 2021, there are up to 3.86 million social media users in the country -- 87% of whom are young Cambodians aged between 15-30 years olds. Facebook is the most popular platform, and its users are equal to 88% of total social media users. Also, Facebook is no longer a place for only young people. There is an increasing number of elderly users now, meaning that Facebook is the most common and most considerable platform for information sharing and advertisement.   But as I mentioned earlier, anyone can create and spread information online, so does Facebook. They can create a Facebook page for less than a minute free of charge to share news content as well as do live streaming, and some even share conspiracy theories they translate from anonymous English sources. Most of these self-proclaimed news pages are unregistered, and their contents are loaded with fake news and misleading information. Why are they doing that? The reason is that they want to make a profit as they are clickbait sites. Therefore, they have no credibility and professional ethic to provide their news content. Their main objectives are to gain popularity to attract more viewers while generating more profits.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people have been exploiting the situation to spread fake news on COVID-19, especially on infections and vaccines, because they expected to gain more engagement and attention. Sometimes, it is easy to identify whether the content is fake by looking at how they design and organize the content, platforms, and web links. However, as mentioned above, all Cambodian users come from different ages and backgrounds. Some of them may have the ability to identify fake news or fake content, but many believe and fall victim to those content. That's why we need to have a critical mind in determining all of the false information and protecting ourselves.  I think it necessitates an ability to reason, be rational, and understand the logical connection between ideas when one wants to improve how to think critically. Consequently, we should always be skeptical about any content that we are reading. For instance, we should always question who writes it, who says it, what it is all about, and why? Is the information logical? Are there any other sources reporting similar information? Therefore, if you can answer these questions, you would have sufficient knowledge and ability to analyze and identify this information. Not only fake content we need to care about, some opinions and content can also be biased. Western media can sometimes be biased and try to promote their ideology to influence other non-western countries' political systems. Therefore, we really to maintain a critical mind and examine rigorously every angle of the issue to make sure that we can comprehend it precisely In my perspective, to help people improve critical thinking skills, the most vital step is integrating the courses on critical thinking in the school curriculum so that young people will have an opportunity to acquire sufficient knowledge and build a critical mind. It will surely pave the way for them to pursue an academic journey successfully. In addition, young people are strongly encouraged to actively partake in debates and public speaking events because doing so will help them develop their critical thinking. Last but not least, taking into account that critical thinking is a learned skill, we should introduce it to the general public, including senior citizens. Doing so will require all stakeholders to initiate and support extensive education and training on critical thinking skills, which involves practicing basic and simple steps. This, of course, enables people to develop this skill better eventually.       *This blog is produced with the financial support from the European Union and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency through Transparency International Cambodia and ActionAid Cambodia. Its contents do not reflect the views of any donors.  

Politik

Cambodia as ASEAN Chair in 2022 From A Youth Perspective

Written by: Houy Sivly, a 3rd year student majoring in Political Science and International Relations at Paragon International University Edited by: Sao Phal Niseiy, Editor-in-Chief at The Cambodianess and Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Thmey Thmey News (Photo Credit: This photo was posted on ASEAN Facebook page.)   On 30th April 1999, Cambodia was admitted into the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Since then, the country undertook the role of ASEAN chairmanship twice, the first in 2002 and the second in 2012. With the chairmanship experience, I can observe that Cambodia did not perform well. One of the most commonly raised examples is ASEAN, under Cambodian leadership, failed to deliver the joint communique for the first time in 45 years after its establishment.  And in less than six months from now, Cambodia will once again take the ASEAN helm. Many expect the country to take its leadership role to promote ASEAN unity and solidarity while working closely with all member states to address the complex regional issues. Besides, Cambodia will act in accordance with the ASEAN Principle of non-interference and respect sovereignty while concurrently pursuing the national interest, particularly in the economic sphere. But personally speaking, what is more important is that Cambodia's chairmanship will encounter many critical issues such as regional and international health crises, regional intra-states conflicts and great-power rivalries in Southeast Asia and the Asia Pacific. Some daunting challenges Cambodia will handle  As the ASEAN chair in 2022, Cambodia will face many complex and identical challenges, but I want to highlight a few. First is the South China Sea dispute, which has been hampering ASEAN unity for many decades.  In addition, assuming that the political crisis in Myanmar will prolong without parties reaching any agreeable solutions, Cambodia will likely have to navigate the regional grouping in dealing with this complicated issue. This crisis, if not managed well, could jeopardize the ASEAN credibility, unity and values. The stake is extremely high as currently, anti-Junta protestors and members of the National Civil Disobedience Movement have repeatedly lambasted ASEAN's slow action and even spoken out of leaving the bloc.  Another challenge is the COVID-19 pandemic. As the chair, Cambodia also needs to ensure that all members in solidarity can set out a clear path toward recovery. Therefore, the region can effectively deal with all adverse economic and social impacts and other arising post-pandemic challenges. What should Cambodia prepare for 2022 ASEAN chairmanship?   Speaking of South China disputes, Cambodia should always clearly identify its national interest and work in parallel with the ASEAN principles, be they the basic principle of state sovereignty and consensus. Even though Cambodia is not a claimant state, Cambodia arguably has been caught between the United States and China amid the great power competition.  Therefore, the country must retain a balance and neutrality to avoid losing friends and benefits. In light of the recent concern over the potential Chinese military presence at the Ream Naval base, Cambodia must also prioritize its stance in strictly upholding its constitution while pursuing a smart and flexible foreign policy amidst the fast-changing regional security landscape. As Prime Minister Hun Sen already declared, Cambodia should never take any decision that appeases any country, eventually causing detrimental effects to the nation and the people. By mentioning neutrality, given that Cambodia is a small and developing nation, it can demonstrate its eagerness and perform the role of the mediator, encouraging all parties to move forward with consultation and negotiation to maintain regional peace, security, and stability. As the current chair, Brunei is unlikely to bring the Code of Conduct for the South China Sea to a conclusion this year, one of the main goals during Cambodia's chairmanship would be achieving it.  Meanwhile, Cambodia should also seek to promote ASEAN-led rule-based regional order while strengthening its economic diplomacy to promote diversification of its trading partners and comprehensive economic cooperation within the region. Concerning the Myanmar political crisis, Cambodia should recognize that attaining a balance between the national interests and ASEAN Principle on mutual respect to avoid offending any parties is very critical. As the chairman, Cambodia should proactively support the solution-seeking process for the Myanmar situation in a position and format that are consistent with the ASEAN principles, and doing so will be acceptable and fair for all parties involved and prevent any regional disunity. It also has to bear in mind that any acts that appear to be taking sides will risk the region's unity and stability. Besides, the Cambodian government should also seek out opportunities that allow the country to engage constructively with relevant parties at bilateral and multilateral levels and in formal and informal ways. Given that the crisis in Myanmar is intricate and Cambodia is small, as long as Cambodia is genuinely keen on helping Myanmar find a way out, there will always be a possibility. Then, it will eventually deliver better resolutions, which can guarantee win-win results once and for all.  Last but not least, it is undeniable that addressing the COVID-19 pandemic impacts will be one of Cambodia's top priorities. Therefore, it should take the initiative to discuss and develop practical action plans and policies to address the current economic and social problems driven by the pandemic. Not only the current problems the bloc has to pay attention to, but it also has to be prepared in responding to the rising impacts in the post-pandemic time.  Tackling the impacts driven by the COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented work. Therefore, Cambodia should underline these three important tasks that all members must prioritize and work to achieve. These include delivering effective and speedy recovery, developing a regional public health system that can withstand public health shocks and strengthening regional resilience and competitiveness.  *This blog is produced with the financial support from the European Union and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency through Transparency International Cambodia and ActionAid Cambodia. Its contents do not reflect the views of any donors.

Politik

Does Cambodia Take Shelter from China? What Does Cambodia’s Foreign Policy Tell Us?

Written by: Phit Phariya, a 4th year student majoring in International Studies at The Royal University of Phnom Penh Edited by: Heng KimKong, a Visiting Senior Research Fellow at Cambodia Development Center and a PhD Candidate in Education at The University of Queensland, Australia   (Photo Credit: This photo was posted on the Facebook page of Prime Minister Hun Sen on February 5, 2021)   Sino-Cambodian diplomatic relations have been formally established since 1958. Since then, regular high-level exchanges have taken place between the two countries. Nonetheless, there shall be noted that at times, particularly during the 1980s, the Sino-Cambodian relationship deteriorated to its lowest point in history. Following 1997, their bilateral relationship took  a significant detour, with the gradual development of trust and confidence leading to increased political, military, and economic cooperation. China has provided substantial bilateral aid, and economic ties have significantly grown over the last two decades. Cambodia and China have enjoyed very strong economic and political ties under a comprehensive strategic partnership. China’s influence in Cambodia has rapidly increased, driven mainly by Cambodia’s development agenda and China’s strategic interests. Amidst this development, Cambodia has been accused of being a client state of China. So does Cambodia take shelter from China? And how does its foreign policy position tell us? What Is Shelter Theory? Shelter theory refers to the series of strategies that small states adopt to alleviate the inherent vulnerabilities of being small. It is a form of alliance relationship with great powers, regional, or international organizations whereby the small state yields effective control of its political decision-making in specific areas. Simply, it means that small states have to sacrifice their natural resources and political autonomy (decision-making) to receive protection in order to survive in the international system. Shelter theory is about the external dimension of the inherent involvement of an external relationship to minimize the risk or threat during the crisis or after the crisis. It is a unique form of alliance with great powers, regions, and international organizations, which focuses on four main aspects: political, security, economic and social shelter. First, political shelter refers to small states yielding specific control on political decision-making in a specific area. By giving up political control to the bigger power, they gain political protection in return. Second, a security shelter involves a direct military security means such as hosting a military base in the small state’s soil. Third, economic shelter includes direct economic assistance from external powers to provide financial benefits, support, and incentives to smaller states in order to help them to survive. Lastly, social shelter involves diffusion of foreign people’s ideas to avoid social stagnation while the bigger power seeks to promote its culture in small states. Sometimes these four aspects come together when the bigger state has more control over the smaller state, allowing the former to have influence and control over these four aspects. However, shelter theory is not a new form of modern colonization because it is just an agreement between state and state without using force; that is, small states voluntarily seek protection from the bigger power and they can terminate it anytime. Shelter theory is not only limited to the state level as the international system can also provide shelter to smaller states as well.  China’s growing presence and influence in Cambodia  The utmost strong ties of the Sino-Cambodian relations are always questioned by other foreign states regarding Phnom Penh’s overdependence on Beijing in the area of  politics, economy, and security. China’s presence in Cambodia has grown dramatically over  the previous two decades, especially in terms of foreign direct investment and military collaboration. Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen has justified Cambodia’s strong ties with China, citing Beijing's huge financial contributions to his small country. China is Cambodia's most powerful political ally and the greatest donor of development aid, supplying billions of dollars into infrastructural projects. The Hun Sen administration called the criticism about Cambodia’s close alignment with China "unjust" while addressing remotely at Nikkei's Future of Asia conference, held in Tokyo last month. Additionally, he said, "If I don't rely on China, who will I rely on? If I don't ask China, who am I to ask?" Cambodia has extensively and actively cooperated in China's One Belt One Road program (OBOR) since the economic growth opportunities generated by this initiative are thought to be enormous. With Chinese assistance, more than 2,000 kilometers of roads, seven major bridges, and a new container terminal were built at the Phnom Penh Autonomous Port by the end of 2017. Nearly 3 billion dollars has been invested in authorized airport projects including  a new international airport in Siem Reap, the Dara Sakor International Airport in Koh Kong province, and an international airport in Kandal province. The state-owned China Communications Construction Company sponsored the 2-billion dollar Phnom Penh-Sihanoukville Expressway Project, now under construction. Moreover, more than 7.5 billion dollars has been invested in hydropower facilities, and around 4 billion dollars has been invested in coal power plants. China has also invested in approximately 30 agricultural and agro-industrial projects in the energy sector.  Besides, China has also invested in constructing the Sihanoukville Special Economic Zone (SSEZ), which has attracted more than 100 enterprises from China and other nations, with a total investment of more than 3 billion dollars as of 2017. The SSEZ has produced approximately 20,000 jobs in the local community. Apart from this, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen paid a special visit to Beijing in early 2020, in the midst of a coronavirus outbreak, to show China Cambodia's full support in the fight against the outbreak. During their conversation, President Xi told Prime Minister Hun Sen that “a friend in need is a friend indeed,” referring to the fact that Cambodia  stands with China  at this critical time.  While Cambodia is experiencing an intense coronavirus outbreak, Prime Minister Hun Sen mentioned the importance of making COVID-19 vaccinations widely available and removing barriers to the cross-border flow of medical goods and services. "Without assistance from China," he also claimed, "maybe we will not have vaccines for our people.” According to the Cambodian government, all Chinese investments and infrastructure development projects in Cambodia have been made transparently, openly, and inclusively. It also claimed that the Chinese debt is manageable. However, Cambodians are increasingly concerned about China's growing dominance. Despite the economic benefits, too much reliance on China carries a high level of commitment and danger. Reliance on Chinese funding might lead Cambodia into a debt trap, resulting in a loss of sovereignty and deterioration of relations with other ASEAN members. In Cambodia, the lack of openness and accountability of China's initiatives is producing social and environmental problems. Civil society actors frequently complain that Chinese firms are racing to exploit Cambodia's resources while ignoring international best development practices. Cambodia’s neutral foreign policy  Despite fierce criticism, Cambodia has always interpreted the language of its foreign policy by standing on the principles of neutrality and non-alignment, that is,  adopting a middle position. Cambodia has pursued a multi-vector foreign strategy rather than focusing solely on one power. Being a small country sandwiched between two larger and more powerful countries, it maintains its foreign policy of permanent neutrality and non-alignment and pursues a policy of peaceful coexistence with its neighbors as well as with other nations around the world. Cambodia has also tried to make as many friends as possible. Its foreing policy is driven by its  primary goal to maintain political stability, peace, and social order in order to achieve human dignity, economic prosperity, and poverty alleviation.  There have been accusations that Cambodia allows China to place military bases on its land. However, Hun Sen and senior government officials have denied any plans to do so at a naval base where the Chinese government is assisting in the expansion of facilities. Hun Sen  cited Cambodia's Constitution, which states that foreign military outposts are not permitted within the country. He went on to say that any country may deploy ships to Cambodia, reflecting his sentiments on development aid that Cambodia always welcomes. "We do not close the door to anyone in accepting assistance for building the country," he said. Basically, Cambodia really needs protection from China; however, the Cambodian government may not want to do so,  as it can jeopardize Cambodia’s long-term interests.  To conclude, I do not think Cambodia wants to go in that direction as we need to think about our long-term interests and future. Obviously, Cambodia wants to take shelter from China but we truly understand the risk of depending only on China. No doubt, Cambodia needs ASEAN and its neighbors. Cambodia does not want to be too dependent on China and under the protection of China forever. I believe this is what the government of Cambodia is trying to do and for sure Cambodia needs China now, yet Cambodia also needs other countries as well. Cambodia has its own policy and strategy to justify its partners. Cambodia wants to make more friends and be nice to all powers, be it China, the US or other countries.  *This blog is produced with the financial support from the European Union and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency through Transparency International Cambodia and ActionAid Cambodia. Its contents do not reflect the views of any donors.  

Myanmar Crisis to Pose Challenges for Cambodia’s ASEAN Chairmanship 2022

Koffee

What We Can Do to Eliminate Online Violence Against Women and Girls

Written by: Vanly Keomuda, a 4th year student majoring in International Studies at The Royal University of Phnom Penh Edited by: Sao Phal Niseiy, Editor-in-Chief at The Cambodianess and Deputy Editor-in-Chief at Thmey Thmey News (Photo credit: "#orangeurhood Cambodia" by UN Women Gallery is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)   The emergence of information and communication technology (ICT) tools such as the internet and social media platforms has opened up new social and economic opportunities and changed the way people interact and communicate. As the internet space has grown, its usage has moved beyond serving our daily interaction to becoming an advocacy platform as it can provide the space for women to express themselves and seek new opportunities. Although the internet presence offers new possibilities, when people use it with limited literacy and ethical standard, it could serve as a double-edged sword that can cause harm and exacerbate online violence against women and girls (VAWG) alike. What is online violence against women? There is no single uniform definition for online VAWG, but the United Nations’ report of the special rapporteur on violence against women defines online VAWG refers as “any act of gender-based violence against women committed, assisted or aggravated in part or fully by the use of ICT, such as mobile phones and smartphones, the Internet, social media platforms or email, against a woman because she is a woman, or affects women disproportionately.” In short, online VAWG refers to any act of violence against women and girls perpetrated in part or fully through ICT. Actually, online violence against women is different from other forms of violence against women because the perpetrators can carry it out anonymously without being punished. Moreover, they can conduct the act of violence without any physical barrier or requiring much time and effort. Therefore, it becomes harder to control online VAWG, and it causes more harm to women and girls. Regarding online harassment, there is still a lack of comprehensive data on violence against women online. But, the majority of the available studies have shown that women are more vulnerable to online violence than men. The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU)'s survey in 2020 shows that 85% of women have experienced or witnessed online VAWG, in which 38% have reported personal experience while 65% others reported knowing other women targeted online.  In addition, the predominant tactics of online threats against women include misinformation and defamation (67%), cyber harassment (66%), hate speech (65%), impersonation (63%), hacking and stalking (63%), astroturfing (58%), video and image-based abuse (57%), doxing (55%), and violent threats (52%). During the COVID-19 pandemic, a report indicates that there have been emerging trends in online violence against women as people have been spending more time online and on digital devices.  As a part of the globalized world, Cambodia is not exempt from this negative phenomenon. Unfortunately, the study and data on online VAWG remain limited and understudied. According to a study by LIRNEasia in 2018, up to 29 percent of Cambodian female internet users aged 15-65 have experienced online harassment compared to 23% of their male counterparts. They have experienced it in the form of being cyberstalked (67%), being called offensive names (14%), being sexually harassed (1%), being purposefully embarrassed or criticized in another way besides being described offensive names (17%), and being physically threatened (2%). Even with the high percentage of prevalent online VAWG, the issue remains overlooked, and most cases continue to be unreported. The result from the EIU study revealed that only 1 in 4 women spoke of violent behavior on online platforms while only 14% of them reported the issue to an offline protective agency and 78% percent of respondents said that women are unaware of the options to report harmful online behaviors. Besides being underreported, law enforcement agencies and courts often fail to take appropriate corrective actions to address the online VAWG issue. Why does online VAWG matter? While many consider that the online space can enhance inclusive opportunity and the voice to promote their freedom of expression, the online VAWG instead hinders such possibility, prompting women to miss out on the benefits that the internet space has to provide. In essence, the impact of online VAWG is generating psychological, social, and economic effects for women in particular. In terms of psychological and social impact, a study by UN women revealed that women experiencing acts of online violence would have higher levels of anxiety, stress disorders, depression, trauma, panic attacks, loss of self-esteem, a sense of powerlessness in their ability to respond to the abuse, and in some cases, the victims may also develop suicidal tendencies.  Furthermore, online VAWG could also result in physical harm to women and encourage women to exclude themselves socially. According to the EIU study, up to 10% of women enduring online violence reported that they experienced offline physical abuse because of the exposure of some of their private information. As for economic harm, online VAWG could also force women to go offline or restrict their online presence, resulting in a larger gender digital divide and limiting their ability to access new opportunities like employment, education, healthcare, and community. Around 20% of the women in the EIU survey said that they stop using online platforms, while in Cambodia, 11% said that they would reduce the use of the website where they experienced online violence. Some of the cyber violence, including explicit images of the victim, could also cause employment loss or difficulties in seeking employment for women. On top of individual impact, online VAWG could also have a macro-economic reverberation as it links to the loss of income of women. What can we all do to help? Because of the nature of the online space that is timeless, anonymous, and borderless, online VAWG causes serious harm to women and exacerbates gender inequality; therefore, dealing with the issue requires the involvement and commitment of everyone. The best practice recommended by the Broadband Commission Working Group on Gender concentrates on 3Ss--sensitization, safeguards, and sanctions in mitigating online VAWG. First, sensitizations refer to preventive measures that aim to change social attitudes and norms through awareness-raising and a deeper understanding of online abuse against women. This measure could be done through public awareness campaigns, providing training on cyber-security and cyber violence against women, and integrating online ethical standards as part of the formal education in the country. We can achieve sensitization only when there is close cooperation and active involvement from governments, civil society groups, private sectors and the general public. Governments and civil society organizations should warrant a commitment to improving public education on online VAWG. Meanwhile, the private sector and the public should maintain the responsibility to monitor their online behavior. Second, safeguards require oversight and monitoring measures that can keep up with the evolving and scope of the online space. This mechanism necessitates closer attention of the government, civil society organizations and the internet industry to maintain responsible and ethical standards for online behavior. In addition, they also have to develop technical solutions that encourage and facilitate reporting of the abuse. Third, sanctions involve the adoption and utilization of laws and regulations on cyber violence against women. It demands that governments adopt particular rules, regulations and other governing tools while ensuring vigorous and effective implementation, enabling the process of addressing the problems of online VAWG to be carried out promptly. Considering everything, as countries have been going through digital adoption and adaptation, online violence against women and girls needs more attention and actions from all stakeholders. Hence, women would not be left behind but, instead, could reap more benefits that ICT has to offer. To learn more about online violence against women, please visit the below links: Online and ICT facilitated violence against women and girls during COVID-19 Report of the Special Rapporteur on violence against women, its causes and consequences on online violence against women and girls from a human rights perspective Online violence against women in Asia: a multicountry study   *This blog is produced with the financial support from the European Union and The Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency through Transparency International Cambodia and ActionAid Cambodia. Its contents do not reflect the views of any donors.

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‘I used to talk about politics on Facebook, but now it’s scary’

By Adam Bemma, Alijazeera 23 Aug 2018 Phnom Penh, Cambodia – Samoeurth Seavmeng sits at a conference table wearing black horn-rimmed glasses. Meng – as she’s known online and to friends – glances at her smartphone and begins to speak to 10 other young Cambodians gathered at Politikoffee, a weekly forum held in a leafy diplomatic enclave of the capital Phnom Penh. “It’s very hard to talk about social media. Sometimes people post fake news on Facebook and sometimes people post true news, so it has advantages and disadvantages,” the 22-year-old activist said. Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen often alleges “fake news” to discredit criticism of his ruling Cambodia People’s Party online. He has even threatened that authorities have the technology to track and arrest a Facebook user within six minutes of a post. This has sent a wave of fear and intimidation through Cambodia’s public sphere, where once critical voices have begun to self-censor. Politikoffee is an offline space where Cambodians feel free to debate and voice dissenting views without fear of arrest.  “Before, I used to share and talk a lot about political and social issues on Facebook, but now it’s a little bit scary to talk about these sensitive issues because I’m afraid I’m going to get in trouble,” Meng said. Internet censorship Cambodia’s government monitors social media. Last May, Cambodia’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, Ministry of Interior and Ministry of Information, issued a regulation to monitor Facebook. The government stated that it wants to control information that is deemed to “threaten the defence and security of the nation, relations with other countries, the economy, public order, and discriminates against the country’s customs and traditions.” The Cambodia Center for Independent Media stated in its 2017 report that seven Facebook users were either arrested or sought by authorities for sharing information and opinions on the social media platform. In 2018, an election year, the number is unknown. “The directive was actually released after they were already identifying, monitoring, charging and imprisoning people,” said Naly Pilorge, director at LICADHO, a human rights monitoring group in Cambodia. During the election in July, 17 news websites – including RFA, VOA and Cambodia Daily (already closed down in 2017) – were ordered offline for 48 hours. Critics believe internet censorship is intended to stop outlawed Cambodia National Rescue Party supporters inside the country from sharing, liking or commenting on election boycott campaigns. “The directive came afterwards to legalise what they were doing in practice already. And it changed the habits of the average [social media] user,” Pilorge added. “The people online that we interact with, we see that there are differences. Definitely people are afraid, hesitant, paralysed. Ourselves included. We’re cautious.” In the lead-up to this year’s election, all independent media was shut down. The main opposition leader was jailed for alleged treason. Two former Radio Free Asia reporters and an Australian filmmaker were jailed for alleged espionage. Several human rights and political activists languish inside Cambodia’s prisons – guilty until proven innocent according to LICADHO. “What you’ve seen over the past year and a half is, for example, a minister or the prime minister decides a post is critical or is unacceptable and will immediately denounce a Facebook post,” Pilorge said. “Within 48 hours this individual is being arrested, charged, imprisoned in pre-trial detention and sometimes convicted.” Increasing regulation  Though the election is over, censorship online is prevalent. Prime Minister Hun Sen was re-elected last month in a vote criticised by the UN as fundamentally flawed. “If the situation for freedom of expression worsens, maybe we will have something that we can do together in order to inform [Cambodians] which tool or application they can use without getting into any trouble,” Meng said. Cambodian digital security trainer Moses Ngeth teaches journalists, activists and human rights campaigners how to secure accounts, and protect data online.  “I train them how to do very basic device security for smartphones, password protection. I tell them to be careful when posting something to social media and not to share any personal information,” he said.  Ngeth believes this new mandate will give the ruling CPP legitimacy to pass its much-anticipated draft cybercrime law. “People cannot talk on the radio, or on television. It leaves only Facebook. That’s why they increased regulation of social media,” Ngeth said. Cambodians can still be arrested, charged, jailed or fined for Facebook posts under criminal defamation, royal defamation laws, or incitement. “I think it’s natural to have fear, but when I see someone is arrested for saying something on social media I don’t feel comfortable. I think that people should feel free to express themselves,” said Kounila Keo, a Cambodian blogger and communications consultant. Prime Minister Hun Sen has amassed over 10 million followers on Facebook. Sam Rainsy, the exiled former CNRP leader who ran in the 2013 elections, claims that many are not even Cambodian and may be fake online profiles generated abroad – an accusation the prime minister refutes. “What [the prime minister] said … ‘When you post, I can know the location’ – it’s one of the funniest things I’ve heard from him,” Ngeth said. “Using Facebook to know the location, it’s not possible,” Ngeth said. Prime Minister Hun Sen and members of the CPP are using Facebook to bypass traditional news media such as newspapers, radio and television, viewed as hostile to the government, to reach Cambodians directly with their messages. “The prime minister and other public figures campaign on Facebook,” said Ngeth. We're not doing anything to harm society. We're doing it to make society a better place, especially for youth to be able to share ideas and contribute. SAMOEURTH SEAVMENG, KNOWN AS MENG, ACTIVIST Back at the Politikoffee debate, the upcoming cybercrime law is considered for discussion in a future forum. Meng wants members to be able to communicate online without being punished for spreading “fake news” for commenting on the draft law. “Now we’re thinking about [developing] a new tool, or a new kind of app, that we can be sure will be safe for us to talk about any issue because we mostly discuss politics,” Meng said. “We’re not doing anything to harm society. We’re doing it to make society a better place, especially [for] youth to be able to share ideas and contribute.” Original Link: https://www.aljazeera.com/features/2018/8/23/i-used-to-talk-about-politics-on-facebook-but-now-its-scary

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