Monthly Archives: April 2011

Vital Voices Supporting Global Leaders at Tribute and Retreat

Vital Voices Global Leader Mu Sochua is in Washington, DC with an invitation-only group of women parliamentarians, businesswomen, leaders and activists for the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network Retreat. Hailing from every region of the world, the women gathered at the retreat are sharing best practices, stories and networks to celebrate the success of women in all spheres. “Vital Voices has tremendous resources to connect people and help women collectively take action,” said one attendee. “The protection of women against violence is not just a Russian issue, but it is also a global issue,” added another.

Vital Voices Supporting Global Leaders at Tribute and Retreat

Vital Voices is co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who met with Sochua and the other Vital Voices Global Leaders at Vital Voices’ award 10th Anniversary of the Global Leadership Award, at the Kennedy Center on 12 April, 2011. The event was attended by 2,400 people. Other presenters included United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer, American news personalities Tina Brown, Wolf Blitzer, Michele Norris, and Cokie Roberts, and other public figures. “It is an honor to be part of this incredible group of women. Vital Voices continues to give us access and opportunity,” said Sochua.

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MP, Mu Sochua is in Washington this week to meet with US officials and civil society to raise human rights issues in Cambodia.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Well Aware of Human Rigths Abuse in Cambodia

 Mu Sochua met and congratulated Secretray Clinton for the US State Department 2010 Report on Human Rights in Cambodia that reveals a worrying trend of systematic abuses and violations of human rights. “The Cambodian government seems to be determined” says Sec. Clinton when referring to these abuses and violations.
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Talking to the Obama Administration

Former Cambodian Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua met with a senior U.S. official this morning at a gathering of international women leaders in Washington, DC. She asked Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale how the U.S. nurtures grassroots movements, especially in reaction to the revolutions in the Middle East. Under-Secretary McHale said, “I took this job because I felt our government was not communicating to people in the marketplace. The world has changed and people have an expectation to be part of the dialogue.” She added that the U.S. government was using new social media, especially Twitter, to understand what issues are most important to people on the ground.

“We have to strengthen those ties. Before, if you were not part of the economic or political life of your country, we would miss you. But now we are listening and we are learning. We have to have a conversation with people at every level of society.” The Vital Voices Global Leadership Network Retreat gathers women parliamentarians, activists and leaders from countries all around the world for a two day retreat to share ideas, stories and strategies towards the promotion of women and their rights.

Meeting with Under-Secretary McHale

Speaking privately with Under-Secretary McHale, Sochua expressed the dissatisfaction of many Cambodians with their lives. She emphasized the struggles of farmers, union workers, and trade workers. She urged the Under-Secretary to continue her efforts to engage with the people’s movement on the ground.

Mother of Alleged Rape Victim Retracts Her Story- My Thoughts

The alleged victim was interviewed on Candle Light Radio on the 4th of April clearly indicating that she was desperate for help. She describes the assault and makes this appeal:

On 30 March, the father of my employer came to the house when everyone has gone out for work. He raped me. I appeal to all Cambodian women who want to come to Malaysia to think carefully and not make the mistake I made. I thought I was coming for a good job but in Malaysia I am a victim of sexual abuse. I want the government to help me return home as soon as possible“.

Listen to the full broadcast here.

The mother of a 27 year-old woman who was recruited by the Champa employment agency and sent to Malaysia to work as a maid, retracted everything she told reporters at my office on Monday 4 April.

What really happened?

To my mind, one word says it all: pressure.

Facts that make me believe so:

The mother retracted her allegation of rape of her daughter: 1/ at a press conference organized by the recruitment agency; 2/ at the Ministry of Interior; 3/ with a thumb printed letter by her daughter , officiated by the Embassy of Cambodia, in Malaysia; 4/ the employer is paying US$ 2,000 for her return to Cambodia.

These are steps that any government with true will to protect its citizens sent abroad for employment would do in the case of such allegation:

1/the Cambodian government should do is to collaborate with the Malaysian police by getting the mother of the alleged victim to Malaysia to provide her daughter support;

2/ Cambodian officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Cambodian Embassy in Malaysia and the Malaysian police with NGOs can form a team to conduct a thorough investigation of the alleged rape;

3/ Her safe return to Cambodia should be arranged by the Cambodian authorities and not paid by the employer;

4/ If she needs to go back to Malaysia to appear in court, the Cambodian authorities should make all arrangements and ensure that proper translation and other support services are provided to her and to her family;

5/in Cambodia, the government should investigate the Champa employment agency. This is not the first time, Champa agency is suspected of wrong doings.

Once these steps are conducted, then the facts should be contained in an official report made available to the public. The investigation of Champa Manpower and its allied agency in Malaysia should be investigated.

As an elected member of parliament, I intend to ask for the report of investigation and the facts, even if I know no investigation has been conducted.

I have reached out to the Malaysian Embassy in Cambodia and to a network of Malaysian NGOs dealing with migrant workers in the region, to investigate the case. It can not end with the retraction of the victim.

I will continue to pursue this case and other cases as I believe that we are on the right track to crack down a million dollar business that uses our women, men and children as objects.

I call on all who believe in defending women’s rights and the prosecution of human traffickers and those who want to see safe working conditions for women to send their concerns to the Malaysian government to investigate the case and to provide protection to the alleged victim.

The silencing of women migrant workers is against the law, it is inhumane and it further supports a human trade that should be condemned. Such treatment of alleged victims of violence and exploitation by those in power to cover up the real truth is very common, even in countries ruled by law. State conspiracy to cover facts or to fail to conduct proper investigation of complaints from alleged victims of violence against women is a very serious matter. There exists UN mechanisms to file complaints related to violence against women and these mechanisms should be used to ensure proper measures by such states to protect women’s human rights and to provide justice to women.

Cambodia has signed the CEDAW Optional Protocol, an instrument that can be used by victims.

-Sochua

Talking to the Obama Administration

Mu Sochua with Judith McHale,
US Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, April 13, 2011

Former Cambodian Minister of Women’s Affairs Mu Sochua met with a senior U.S. official this morning at a gathering of international women leaders in Washington, DC. She asked Under-Secretary for Public Diplomacy Judith McHale how the U.S. nurtures grassroots movements, especially in reaction to the revolutions in the Middle East. Under-Secretary McHale said, “I took this job because I felt our government was not communicating to people in the marketplace. The world has changed and people have an expectation to be part of the dialogue.” She added that the U.S. government was using new social media, especially Twitter, to understand what issues are most important to people on the ground.

“We have to strengthen those ties. Before, if you were not part of the economic or political life of your country, we would miss you. But now we are listening and we are learning. We have to have a conversation with people at every level of society.” The Vital Voices Global Leadership Network Retreat gathers women parliamentarians, activists and leaders from countries all around the world for a two day retreat to share ideas, stories and strategies towards the promotion of women and their rights.

Speaking privately with Under-Secretary McHale, Sochua expressed the dissatisfaction of many Cambodians with their lives. She emphasized the struggles of farmers, union workers, and trade workers. She urged the Under-Secretary to continue her efforts to engage with the people’s movement on the ground.

Mu Sochua meets with Hillary Clinton

Vital Voices Global Leader Mu Sochua is in Washington, DC with an invitation-only group of women parliamentarians, businesswomen, leaders and activists for the Vital Voices Global Leadership Network Retreat. Hailing from every region of the world, the women gathered at the retreat are sharing best practices, stories and networks to celebrate the success of women in all spheres. “Vital Voices has tremendous resources to connect people and help women collectively take action,” said one attendee. “The protection of women against violence is not just a Russian issue, but it is also a global issue,” added another.

Vital Voices is co-chaired by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison, who met with Sochua and the other Vital Voices Global Leaders at Vital Voices’ award event. Sochua spoke with Secretary Clinton about her work and the continued campaign to encourage women political participation in Cambodia.

Other presenters included United States Ambassador-at-Large for Global Women’s Issues, Melanne Verveer, American news personalities Wolf Blitzer and Cokie Roberts, and other public figures. “It is an honor to be part of this incredible group of women. Vital Voices continues to give us access and opportunity,” said Sochua.

Mu Sochua with American fashion designer, Diane von Furstenberg

National Democratic Institute Presentation and Collaborating with Egyptian Women

Cambodian parliamentarian and human rights leader Mu Sochua met with government officials, international leaders, and other activists in Washington, DC to discuss women’s rights and empowerment. At the National Democratic Institute, Sochua gave a presentation on building a women’s movement in Cambodia and shared stories of women candidates in villages and communes throughout the country. In preparation for the 2012 elections in Cambodia, Sochua offered strategies for how to “win with women” that included practical and effective messaging campaigns, funding needs and networking. She called on NDI, USAID and other American agencies and organizations to assist the people’s and youth movement in Cambodia with financial and moral support.

One of the central topics of conversation among the delegations present, NDI staff, and government officials was identifying ways to inspire women and young people to participate in politics. Sochua described in detail the scope of domestic violence, government oppression and life-threatening challenges that face potential women candidates. However, more and more women participate in politics each other and register their names as candidates for office. The Sam Rainsy Party offers training for women candidates in group sessions. Attendees at the presentation were surprised to discover that training 50 women candidates cost a mere $200.

Following her presentation, Sochua video conferenced with women leaders of the opposition movement in Egypt. She listened to their stories and message, and proceeded to exchange lessons from her own experience in politics. Sochua also cautioned them to think carefully about how to craft their message and to limit their anger. Such anger will become a label and a handicap, she said. They also discussed the opportunities of technology to produce new relationships and cover the stories that need to be heard.

Rape, beating claimed (Phnom Penh Post)

Tuesday, 05 April 2011 15:03 Meas Sokchea (Phnom Penh Post)

A widow who claims her daughter was raped, beaten and deprived of food over a seven-month period by two separate employers in Malaysia yesterday appealed to the Cambodian government to intervene.

Srey Sophal, 66, from Svay Rieng province, requested that government officials tell Phnom Penh-based recruitment agency Champa Manpower Group to allow her daughter to return to Cambodia.

Please read the full article on the Phnom Penh Post Website.