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IT'S NOT OK Campaign Update: July - September 2015
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IT'S NOT OK Campaign Update: July - September 2015
Mouths Wide Shut
Cambodia's developing Justice System
Sinet (not her real name) had kept her mouth shut in court. Her abuser had threatened her beforehand. The judge, seeing her trepidation, threatened that he will put her grandmother — her primary caretaker — in jail if she didn’t talk. All the other judges in the room were male. Scarred and petrified, Sinet withdrew. She was only seven.
 
This is only one of many situations where victims of child abuse and rape have helplessly retreated from pursuing criminal cases against their perpetrators. Often very young and traumatised, these girls’ voices are drowned out in fear. Without a support group or organisation to advocate for their rights, along with costly medical examinations and the lengthy pursuit of civil and criminal cases, many perpetrators go scot-free. At the SHE Rescue Home, we have witnessed this type of dilemma amongst the girls under our care. This is an impetus for us to push for cases to continue, advocating on their behalf to see that the perpetrators are brought to JUSTICE.
 
A 2014 study by UNICEF and Hagar International, a non-profit organisation providing care for abused children in Cambodia, took a closer look at what children experience either as victims or witnesses, under the Cambodian criminal justice system. They interviewed 54 children, mostly girls who were raped, along with judicial authorities, the police and NGO staff providing care or shelter.
 
The study showed that while the judicial system has markedly improved, implementing a “child-friendly” justice system remains wanting. For instance, recounting victims’ stories repeatedly to different parties in the system — the police, medical examiner, lawyers and judges who are often male — was highly disconcerting and detrimental to victims’ recovery. At least six victims in the study claimed that the perpetrator was at the police station at the same time. A significant number of cases occurred where the police did not read the child’s statement of rights.
 
Despite that the majority of respondents were rape victims, only 10% of those interviewed were attended to by female medical examiners. At SHE Rescue Home, we learned that our girls often did not have the choice of gender of the doctor. Medical exams need to be done at a government hospital for evidence to be admissible in court. Public hospitals are open only on weekdays and closed in the afternoons. Delaying the exam means losing crucial DNA and medical evidence that is often collected too late or not at all. Without this evidence, there is extreme pressure on the girl’s testimony as it becomes the key evidence in the case.

 
Possibly often overlooked are children’s participation in the judicial process itself. More than half of the children interviewed in the study had met their lawyers only one or two days before the hearing. Only 40% who are under NGO residential care were able to fully prepare for the trial by being shown photos or drawings, a video clip, or the court process being explained to them using toys or dolls. Also in many instances, children have to sit through other cases before theirs is heard, often exposing them to other accounts of violent crimes. No confidentiality is observed, as cases are publicly announced beforehand including the child’s name and age. While there are supposedly child-friendly spaces in courts, none of the children interviewed claimed to have seen or been in one.
 
Such conditions take a toll on a child, who as a result exhibit a wide range of physical symptoms such as distress, anger from hearing false testimony or shame at having to tell their story in a public setting. Perhaps even more disturbing is that nearly all children interviewed said that their perpetrator had been in the same court room just a few metres away. 
Advocating For a Child-Friendly
Judicial System
For all of the girls under our care, there are measures we can take to help them through this process. We advocate for them to have a dividing screen to avoid coming face-to-face with their perpetrator while they testify. While using screens and TV-linked testimony is instructed under the 2008 Prakas, it remains the judge’s decision whether it will be allowed or not. Though in Cambodian courts it often isn’t, we still continue to request this method of interviewing.

We also provide intensive counselling in the lead up to, during and post trial. Through this we have witnessed more girls in our programs begin to view the legal process as an empowering experience, where justice is served, rather than a disempowering and re-traumatising one. 
Christmas is Coming
There are so many ways you can be a part of the SHE family this Christmas and we hope you can carefully consider how you might help join the celebrations...
Each girl gets a beautifully wrapped Christmas present each year with school stationary, clothing, books and a few special fun things for them to play with. Though we get a range of second-hand donations throughout the year, for this present we use only brand new items. You can join the SHE celebrations by either donating towards the purchase of these presents, or donating them yourselves!  Full cost: $150
Pay or Contribute HERE
Each girl gets a beautifully wrapped Christmas present each year with school stationary, clothing, books and a few special fun things for them to play with. Though we get a range of second-hand donations throughout the year, for this present we use only brand new items. You can join the SHE celebrations by either donating towards the purchase of these presents, or donating them yourselves!  Full cost: $150
Pay or Contribute HERE
Each year we have a big celebration for our staff to say thank-you for all their achievements throughout the year. Our staff work so incredibly hard, we want to just bless their socks off! This year the staff have requested that their celebration is combined with the girls celebration so that they can all be together on Christmas – that’s just how incredible they are! Food and Activities for 30 staff - Full Cost: $600 Pay or Contribute HERE
In the past the girls have experienced some wild Christmas fun! One year they walked out the doors of the high security home to find an entire water park with slip and slides, blow up pools, water games and of course water balloons. Another year they went on a massive adventure race across Phnom Penh. This year will be no different and our Christmaelves are planning some fun, adventurous activities for both the girls and staff to do. Food and activities for girls - Full Cost: $300 Pay or Contribute HERE
Come, Experience, Learn
Team Trips
She Rescue Home runs a number of team trips each year, opening the doors for people to come and experience the full wealth of Cambodia's people, culture and country. Our team trips give insight into Cambodia's rich history and how this affects this developing nation today, including it's struggles with sexual exploitation and human trafficking. 

You will meet incredible people who are working to make a difference in Cambodia and learn about the many programs that the SHE Rescue Home offers to survivors of trafficking and their families. You'll also learn how you can be a part of the solution in Cambodia or in your home country on your return. 


Hi, 
I just returned from a great trip from Cambodia with the youth team. I enjoyed how friendly the Cambodian people were and how good of a team was put together. What the SHE Home is doing in Cambodia is amazing so keep up the good work. Our leaders were great because they were serious but had a laugh. 

I just want to thank you for the opportunity to go!!
 
(2015 Youth Team Member)
If you think you could fill a whole team of your own (6 - 12 people) then why not make a time to come and visit. Or sign up for one of our pre-scheduled trips. 

For more info check out our website: www.sherescuehome.org 
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She Rescue Home
322 Wecker Road, Carindale,
Australia



SHE Rescue Home is proud to be a partner for Project J828 SHE Rescue Home with Global Development Group (ABN 57 102 400 993). 
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