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Women in Transitional Justice

Gender-Based Violence under the Khmer Rouge – information

This 2012–2014 project, which deals with Gender-Based Violence under the Khmer Rouge, has terminated. The project’s final evaluation report can be downloaded from the ECCC’s website here.

For more information on Gender-Based Violence under the Khmer Rouge, check out our separate information platform on this topic at on which all related materials have been made public.

We have also published a study on Forced Marriage under the Khmer Rouge, as well as a companion volume containing interviews with victims of this crime:

“Like Ghost Changes Body – A Study on the Impact of Forced Marriage under the Khmer Rouge Regime”
by Theresa de Langis, Judith Strasser, Thida Kim and Sopheap Taing. (2014)

“Like Ghost Changes Body – Interviews with Victims of Forced Marriage during the Khmer Rouge Regime”
edited by Theresa de Langis and as told to Thida Kim. (2015)

The Issue & Background

As is the case for many development issues in Cambodia, women and girls are more disadvantaged than their male counterparts when it comes to accessing justice. Social, political and economic gender inequality is deeply ingrained in Cambodian society. Incidences of domestic violence remain high while reported cases of rape have increased over the last decade.

Cambodia’s Ministry of Women’s Affairs aims to improve gender equality and women’s access to justice by implementing the National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women. While some success has been had, in particular with regard to developing and improving policies and related laws, this national plan does not, however, specifically address the legal and restorative justice needs of survivors of gender-based violence during the Khmer Rouge era. Gender justice requires that perpetrators are held accountable.

The Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC) constitute the first serious effort to hold perpetrators of the Khmer Rouge regime accountable for gender-based violence during the regime. This presents a huge opportunity for civil society, the Cambodian government and educational institutions and the ECCC itself to work on improving gender equality and women’s access to justice, both important contributions to the response to and prevention of violence against women and girls, a crime all too widespread in Cambodia still.

Our Goals

The overall goal of this program is to promote gender equality and improve access to justice for female survivors and victims of gender-based violence during the Khmer Rouge regime. Together with our project partners we want to ensure that survivors of gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge can exercise their rights to the truth, criminal justice, rehabilitation and non-recurrence.

The project also aims to increase gender-sensitivity in the operations and activities of the ECCC, civil society organizations and educational institutions for judicial professionals, which all contributes to the prevention of gender-based violence and increases access to justice for all survivors of this type of crime.

The Target Groups

Female Civil Parties participating in the ECCC trial (including their representatives) as well as victims of gender-based crimes (women and men) under the KR regime.


  • legal professionals of the ECCC, staff of NGOs and governmental institutions engaged in transitional justice and gender work, judicial professionals from the Cambodian national judiciary, as well as national and international transitional justice practitioners and researchers
  • the general public
    In Cambodia, public knowledge and awareness of gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge, and of women’s rights in general, is low. The topic is rarely brought up and discussed in public.
    Increasing gender equality and effectively responding to gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge therefore requires reaching out to the general population who can benefit through improved access to information on gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge, as well as information on women’s rights in general.
  • families, friends and communities of civil parties who participated in the project’s training activities, truth-seeking initiatives and/or who receive psychological treatment from TPO

Our Approach

Four different strategies underpin the project’s activities:

Trial Attendance & Legal Support

To increase the number of female Civil Parties attending the criminal proceedings at the ECCC and to facilitate more active and meaningful participation, through increased access to their lawyers and legal updates and training. Victims of sexual violence also have the opportunity to participate in workshops on gender-based violence, mental health, managing trauma and building trust.

Women’s Empowerment & Psychological Support

TPO offers the survivors services responding to their psychological needs. Activities include community-based self-help groups, psychiatric assessments and individual trauma treatment.


The project encourages local truth-telling on gender-based violence, both under the Khmer Rouge and present-day, by staging community-based interactive theater plays and by organizing two large-scale national women’s forums to raise awareness of women’s experiences during the Khmer Rouge.

Capacity Building

The project team will also work with the ECCC, NGOs working in transitional justice, the Lawyers Training Centre and the Royal Academy for Judicial Professionals to enhance gender awareness and build capacity to respond to the needs of victims of sexual and other gender-based violence during the Khmer Rouge time and today. For example, by establishing a gender-sensitive transitional justice program, the ECCC itself both ensures gender-sensitivity during its operations and complements and supports Cambodia’s National Action Plan to Prevent Violence against Women.

Project Activities

Project activities include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • organize update and information meetings for civil partners with regards to proceedings and progress at the ECCC (meetings with civil party lawyers; updates on reparation projects, non-judicial measures, the scope of Cases 002/01 and 002/02, developments at the ECCC) and create opportunities for them to discuss and clarify any related matters.
  • promote and facilitate trial attendance; run trial attendance workshops
  • psychologically support civil parties at the ECCC (before, during and after proceedings)
  • trauma treatment – Testimonial Therapy
  • self-help groups
  • individual counseling
  • forum theatre and other awareness raising activities in rural areas, such as community dialogues and information displays
  • radio show
  • advocacy films
  • testimonial films
  • publications (eg research reports)
  • information platform
  • co-organize Women’s Hearing 2013 and create and distribute related film

Donor & Project Partners

DONOR: United Nations Trust Fund to End Violence Against Women

PARTNERS: the Cambodia Defenders Project (CDP), the Victims Support Section (VSS) and the Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia (ECCC).

For more info, contact

TPO Cambodia on


Rural women listen to TPO workers raising awareness of mental health issues the community is experiencing as part of the ongoing impact of gender-based violence under the Khmer Rouge.