“Hagar has been my second home. If it had not been for Hagar, my son would not have been born healthy and I would not have been able to start my life again”. - Hong, 40-year-old survivor of domestic violence
“I’d been approaching many organizations before I reached out to Hagar because I couldn’t find any solution for my problems. Thanks to the introduction by the Child Helpline, I was able to come to you and together with your social worker, I’ve made my future plan. Hopefully together with your responsive support, my son and I can woke up after this nightmare.” - Pham, 36-year-old survivor of domestic violence
Because of you!
Key Research Findings and why your support is so important.
"The police extorted us, demanding money before they worked.”
A System Just for Children highlights police treatment of child victims and witnesses. While children generally felt the police behaved ‘normally’ toward them, 10 respondents said they were treated disrespectfully or were mocked or ignored by the authorities. In 11% of cases, the child met the perpetrator at the police station and 20% of respondents reported paying money to police before the case moved forward.
The Courtroom Experience
The study found that the court process was rarely child friendly. Strangers were often present in the court room and in one instance, media representatives were in attendance during the trial. Children often had to sit through other cases, sometimes being exposed to violent crimes. No participant reported seeing or using a child-friendly waiting room.
“Being in the same room is too close. I was afraid immediately when I saw the perpetrator.”
Nearly every child interviewed found themselves exposed to the perpetrator on the way to or in the courtroom. In most cases the child was two or three meters from the perpetrator during the hearing and in some cases, even travelled to the court house in the same vehicle.
“I do not know what is happening in my case”
Many children were given little information about what was happening in their case and 10% of the children interviewed did not know clearly if their case was finished or not. It was rare for children or their guardians to get copies of their statements or any other documentation relating to the case.
Demeanour of Judges and Lawyers
While social service and legal aid staff largely agree that judges’ demeanour towards children in court has improved over the years, there is still room for improvement. The court environment remains frightening for children and in some cases, the judge asked inappropriate questions or laughed at the victim, particularly if the witness was an older girl or boy. Defence lawyers sometimes acted inappropriately, including trying to confuse, trick or intimidate child witnesses. Often, it was the child’s lawyer, not the judge, who requested such behaviour stop.
“I am still fearful that the man’s relatives will take revenge on me for sending him to jail.”
The research demonstrates the safety concerns children and their representatives have after the trial. There were apprehensions about whether prison sentences would be served and when the perpetrator would appear in the community again. Court authorities provided no comment about this and there seemed to be no clear responsibilities for child victim or witness safety during or post-trial.
20 Participants from nine families were trained to be foster parents. This will give trafficked girls in Cambodia a chance to lives, safely, in a family setting while on the journey of restoration.
We are pleased to announce the appointment of Steve Penfold as Country Director, Hagar Cambodia. Steve is both a leader and public health professional with more than 17 years' experience in NGOs. “Hagar has a track record of reaching victims of extreme levels of gender-based violence, abuse and trafficking. What I see deeply ingrained in Hagar is the patience, compassion, professionalism and innovation needed to enable vulnerable women and children to rebuild their lives and stand on their own two feet." Steve is looking forward to leading the team and working with donors, beneficiaries and partners to develop programs, research and social enterprises to enable that to happen as well as building local capacity, working to maintain a 97% local staff rate.
Your Support Gives Kalyan Hope
With her black sharp eyes, Kalyan is a friendly and energetic woman. It is hard to believe that she has had such a dark past. When she was 15 years old, she was trafficked for sexual exploitation by her mother. Now, aged 18, she is a beautiful young woman living in a group home project supported by Hagar.
Kalyan is grateful to Hagar for providing her with a range recovery services, in particular counseling. “When I came to Hagar, I learned a lot, the programs made me feel relieved and happy until I forgot all the painful memories,” she said. Hagar has changed her life completely.
Despite Kalyan experiencing serious trauma, she has enjoyed success in Hagar’s educational programs. She achieved an outstanding study record in Hagar’s Community Learning Center while she was living in the Girls Recovery Shelter. Kaylan was loved by all the teachers and was seen as a top student. Although studying Khmer language was challenging for Kalyan because her mother tongue is Vietnamese, she can read and write Khmer well now. “I am always the number one student in the class, or sometimes I am number two, but I had never gone to number three, so I get a reward every month,” she said.
For the past 12 months, Kalyan has been living in a group home. She prefers life in the group home more than in the shelter because she has more freedom and independence. She has her own room and can go out alone after informing her caregivers. “Living together with other children in the same home is fun, yet sometime we also have arguments. Luckily we have good caregivers who always help, give advice and solve problems,” she said.
In her group home, Kalyan receives food and daily accessories. She also receives a monthly wage for her own personal spending and is able to supplement her income by beading creative art products (pictured). Kalyan is now studying grade seven in Beltei International Institute in Phnom Penh. She goes to school on a bicycle provided by Hagar’s Education Assistance Program. In secondary school, her study record is not quite as good as her primary results because she is competing with affluent class mates who can afford extra classes and tutors. Kalyan believes that she is also disadvantaged by being the oldest in the class and is subject to further discrimination for having a Vietnamese name.
Kalyan still loves her study but feels that it will take too long to finish high school. Consequently, she plans to join the Employment Empowerment project and train to work in a hair salon. “I know that I am completely adult now, I want to have one particular skill for myself, before I leave Hagar,” she said.
Once she learns the job skills, Kalyan would like to go back to live with her mother who has just been released from prison. She forgives her mother for what she did to her, believing the law has punished her enough. Hagar will work closely with Kalyan through the reunification process.