Cambodian NGO film addressing domestic violence wins Australian award

PHNOM PENH (The Phnom Penh Post/ANN) - A social media campaign created by Siem Reap-based NGO This Life Cambodia to tackle domestic violence is gaining international recognition.

A social media campaign created by Siem Reap-based NGO This Life
Cambodia to tackle domestic violence is gaining international
recognition having just won the Best Social Media Campaign of the Year
award at the Not-For-Profit Technology Awards in Australia, as well as
being a finalist for the global Grassroots Justice Prize.

The two-minute campaign film – that sees an office worker, a rice
field worker, a garment worker and a student all placing helmets on
their heads before they return home – beat the campaign of runner-up
Fansdonate x Bush Heritage Australia, according to an announcement
issued by organisers last month.

This Life Cambodia’s campaign was driven by a creative video which
grabbed public attention and provoked conversation by depicting a world
in which women and children weren’t wearing helmets to protect
themselves from road accidents, but wore them inside their homes to
protect themselves from domestic violence.

“It’s a huge honour to win this global recognition,” said Billy
Gorter, the founder and executive director of This Life Cambodia.

“We believe creative campaigning is one of the most powerful and
cost-effective ways to create positive change. For almost a decade,
people in Cambodian communities have told us that domestic violence was
one of the biggest problems they faced locally, and that the silence
around it needed to be broken.”

In addition to the video, many well-known Cambodians
volunteered to record videos and messages of support to promote the
campaign, including feminist social media star Catherine Harry, pop
singers Nikki Nikki and Oun, and the actress and singer Yan Linda.

“We’re proud to have made a move in the right direction. We
especially want to thank the well-known Cambodians who spoke out in
support of the campaign, and the 9,000 people who shared the campaign
materials, it’s down to them that we made this impact.

“Social media has had a lot of negative press in the last few years
but it can still be used as a force for good, and we will continue to
use it in that way,” Gorter says.

The End Violence Together campaign ran for 16 days in November and
December last year and went viral, with the video viewed more than one
million times.

Jaime Gill, Communications Manager at This Life Cambodia, tells The
Post: “The judges were looking for clearly defined objectives and a
well-executed plan, creativity in the use of social media and most of
all provable impact in terms of the numbers of people reached and
engaged by the campaign.”

The awards ceremony was attended by major figures from the technology
and philanthropic worlds, including senior Australian politicians and
major technology companies like Microsoft, Jaime says.

“This means that Cambodia and the work of Cambodian NGOs was given
great prominence at this important event. Most of all, the award
encourages This Life Cambodia to work even harder on finding really
creative ways to support Cambodian communities as they seek to forge a
brighter future,” she says.

A This Life Cambodia report said that more than 20 per cent of
Cambodian women experience domestic violence, but of them only 24 per
cent seek help, and 40 percent say they don’t need help because they
considered such violence “normal”.

The campaign therefore had to be creative to reach people as social
attitudes about domestic violence are widespread and entrenched.

The report said: “The campaign needed to reach a critical mass of people in order to begin changing these attitudes.”

“Getting an award like this means a lot to us at This Life Cambodia,
but mostly because what it really recognises is the passion of
Cambodians to make their country better. This campaign could never have
worked if people up and down the country hadn’t really engaged with the
message against domestic violence, by sharing, commenting and talking
about it in quite incredible numbers,” Gorter says.

This Life Cambodia is also a finalist in the Grassroots Justice Prize
– an award given by the Global Legal Empowerment Network – and is in
the running to win a prize of $10,000.

“We were nominated because our campaign has done so much to raise
awareness of the domestic violence law in Cambodia, and because of our
many staff working to raise awareness of the law within communities. We
were named as finalists in May and are waiting for the final
announcement of the three winners in July,” Gill says.

The Grassroots Justice Prize is a global awards ceremony held every
two years, and 200 organisations from across the globe have to go
through a detailed application process and rigorous judging by some of
the best legal experts in the world. The final four winning
organisations will be honoured at a UN awards ceremony in New York in
July, according to Bill.

Since 2007, This Life Cambodia has operated in Cambodian communities,
working alongside them to overcome the challenges that they themselves
identify, helping them to acquire the skills and resources they need to
create change and progress.

“Awards like this also remind me that This Life Cambodia in 2018 has
gone far beyond what I could have imagined when I first spoke to members
of a local community in 2007 about the challenges they faced, and began
to think about how to work with them as they set their sights on a
better future,” Gorter says.

“We are able to do so much more as an NGO now, and I hope we have
played a positive role as Cambodia has changed in the last decade.”

The organisation also focuses on improving local education,
particularly supporting secondary schools and reducing dropout rates and
working with young people in prisons to help them stay in contact with
their families and return to contribute to their communities.

“We work with children living in residential care and help reunite
them with their families. We also work within several communities to
reduce domestic violence, through campaigning, education on the law and
direct support to women and children. Our domestic violence team works
directly with more than 3,500 women and children across 22 communes,
though indirectly we reach 165,000 people,” according to Bill.

This Life Cambodia aims to be ever more creative and effective in the
way it works to improve the lives of more Cambodians. It aims to work
with several more secondary schools and will also expand in the field of
domestic violence.

“We are encouraged by this award to be even more creative, even more
driven, in listening to Cambodian communities and supporting them to
overcome the challenges they identify and lead their country forward,”
says Gorter.

More information on This Life Cambodia can be found on their website (www.thislifecambodia.org) or their Facebook page (@thislifecambodia).

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