100 Women members collectively awarded Cambodian Children’s Fund (CCF) Child Protection Unit (CPU) a 2015 grant of $40,000 towards a “Specialist Child Interviewers Course” for 22 Cambodian police women.
By way of background, in the 2015 report “Getting Away With It” by the Cambodian League for the Promotion and Defence of Human Rights it states, “In 2013 the UN published research on the prevalence of Cambodian men’s use of violence against women. It found that out of a sample of 1,812 men, 369 admitted to having committed rape. This figure included partner, non-partner and gang rape. Of that 369, nearly half had raped more than once and over 20% had raped more than one victim.”
The CPU “Specialist Child Interviewers Course” is designed to enable these trained police women and Child Protection officers to be the first responders to child victims of serious crimes, retrieving and recording as much information as possible, as soon as possible. This critical first interview is planned to reduce the number of times a child has to retell the course of events and thus reduce the personal trauma to them. In addition to this, well-documented evidence to international standards and statements from the victim will assist with a higher percentage of arrests and prosecutions, ultimately leading to a reduction in child abuse.
The 100 Women grant paid for four UK police officers to travel from the UK in order to provide content and leading activities for this course. The grant also covered course materials and recording equipment necessary for the practical part of the course that involved role-play and interviewing children. This course was adapted specifically for Cambodian police women from a month long course delivered to UK police officers, thus ensuring the course was appropriate for the police women and that the skills learnt could be transferred to their local context and working conditions.
The first three days included workshops and group sessions on best practices and interview techniques and how to use the recording equipment effectively. The fourth day involved a role-play session of interviewing children. CCF staged an event where local celebrities arrived unannounced and interacted with the children. The following day the female police officers interviewed those children about their experience, which was recorded and live streamed to other trainees who followed the interview. The aim of the training was to ascertain how close the testimony of events was to the actual experiences.
This is the second time the course has been provided by the CPU, after being held for the first time in May 2015. The CPU reports regularly to the Commissioner General of the Cambodian National Police and for the year to 31 December 2016, the CPU in conjunction with the Cambodian National Police undertook a total of 269 investigations into serious crimes including homicide and rape committed against children under the age of 14. In that same time there was a total of 215 arrests (an arrest rate of 80%). More recently as at 31 March 2017, 65 investigations had been reported into serious crimes of a similar nature, with 53 arrests (an 81% arrest rate).
In the long term it is hoped that these sort of compelling statistics will lead to a reduction in crimes of this nature against women and children. However it is equally important to recognise that the female police officers who have undertaken the “Specialist Training Course” are now not only better equipped to assist in achieving these results, but that they have been and continue to be achieved with a far greater focus on reducing the personal trauma for the child victims as they recount the events.
From the initial training, the CPU is working to train a total of 100 female police officers across all 25 provinces in Cambodia. As well as interviewing child victims and witnesses, these expert interviewers will deliver future training to both male and female officers up skilling the entire police force.
This is yet another example of the power of collective giving and the impact that each 100 Women member can have on the lives of those far less fortunate than ourselves. Thankyou once again to all our 100 Women members. If you are not a member already, please join us and become a catalyst for positive change for women and girls. The investment starts from as little as $25 per month (6 cups of coffee!!).
Carol Yiannopoulos, 100 Women Advisory Board