It’s not just sexual harassment and violence, says Mary. “Women are discriminated against and they are not allowed to express themselves. They are not allowed to choose what they want. They are not allowed to choose their partners. They are forced to marry against their will.”
“They are seen as objects, things. They are voiceless.”
Nop, teacher and youth advocate in Cambodia
Nop interned with UNICEF Cambodia to give young people like her a voice. She used the internship to speak out about what the #MeToo movement taught her about Cambodian society.
“Does society encourage us enough to speak up against sexual abuse and harassment offenders? No. Rather, we are taught to “avoid” those misconducts,” she says.
“Cambodian girls and women who are victims of sexual assault, abuse, harassment and exploitation may not be able to demand justice and emotional support from the public. Instead, the crowd would put blame on women for wearing revealing clothes, going out late at night, drinking, and the list goes on. This victim blaming is another barrier that discourages women from standing up for themselves.”
“Girls and women do not deserve all these discriminatory rules and societal expectations. We deserve better.”
UNICEF is there for every girl in danger
UNICEF works with girls, parents, communities and governments to keep children safe from danger and help victims recover. We’re helping to:
- Ensure equal access to education. Well-educated girls grow up to transform their communities and then pass on those benefits to their children. 61 million girls are out of school at the primary and lower-secondary level but UNICEF is helping governments get girls in school, deliver supplies, train teachers and prevent them from dropping out.
- Prevent child marriage. UNICEF helps stop child marriage by changing attitudes, funding youth groups and helping governments make the practise illegal.
- End human trafficking. Women and girls are the most frequently identified victims of trafficking. UNICEF helps governments strengthen laws, create effective systems to protect children and respond to violence and abuse.
- Promote programs designed to end gender-based violence and offering psychosocial support to girls and women who have been harmed.
- Stop female genital mutilation (FGM). This year alone, millions of girls will be forced to undergo FGM, most of them before their fifth birthday. UNICEF works with communities and governments to change attitudes and keep girls safe.
And we’re taking steps to stamp out abuse and harassment in UNICEF’s staff and networks. We have a responsibility to keep everyone who works with UNICEF safe from sexual exploitation, harassment and abuse of power and authority. Find out more.
Thank you to UNICEF Connect
, Voices of Youth Cambodia
and UNICEF USA
for the stories, images and powerful words that shaped this piece.
Help keep girls safe
A special community of supporters called Global Parents
is helping UNICEF keep children safe from danger and disease. From right here in Australia, they’re reaching children in Chad, Syria and wherever children are in danger around the world with life-saving vaccines, clean water and safe places to learn and play.
Each new Global Parent helps us go further, work faster and keep more children safe. Sign up today to help protect children from early marriage, labour and exploitation, and to deliver life-saving water, health and nutrition supplies wherever the need is greatest.