Cambodia: Indigenous women face pressure at the forefront of land rights advocacy

Women, including those from indigenous communities, are increasingly finding themselves on the frontline in advocating for their rights in the face of Cambodia's simmering problem of land disputes.

A new report from Amnesty International released this week looks at how women in the Southeast Asian country are fighting against controversial land evictions. But this more prominent role has in turn placed them at greater risk of harassment and intimidation from businesses and authorities looking to claim the land.

Phouk Hong is a woman from the indigenous Kuy communities of northern Cambodia. The Kuy make up a majority of an estimated 200,000 people who live in a forest area called Prey Lang. The area is intensely integral to the lives of the Kuy. But critics say their land is threatened by government land concessions awarded to agro-industrial plantations and mining operations.

Hong says she and her community rely on the forest for food, water and fuel--the basic necessities of life.

"The provate companies keep clearing land every day," she says. "We depend on the forest for our livelihoods. Without it, our lives are finished."

Rights groups have documented more than 200 land conflicts in the last four years alone. The land under dispute in these conflicts amounts to an estimated five percent of Cambodia's total land area.

"In Cambodia, women are at the forefront of the fight against forced evictions," says Donna Guest, Amnesty International's Asia-Pacific deputy director. "Many have taken the lead in their communities' struggle for justice, putting themselves at risk to defend their communities."

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Date: 25/11/2011




Culture and Tradition
Indigenous Peoples
Natural resources
Land Rights

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