Responding to everyday rape in Cambodia: rhetorics, realities and somroh somruel
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This paper analyses a dilemma for victims of 'everyday rape' in Cambodia: their community's preferred response is somroh somruel, a customary dispute resolution process, but pressure is exerted by the state and by international and local NGOs to use the criminal justice system, which is corrupt and inaccessible to all but an elite. Drawing from interviews with NGO staff and field research by NGOs, we find a clash between human rights rhetoric and the realities faced by rape victims and their families. Human rights and other western donor organisations need to consider multiple meanings of justice, particularly in rural areas in countries like Cambodia, where 'justice' situates morality within the restoration of social harmony and the repair of aggrieved relationships. Greater attention should be given to supporting and improving somroh somruel, alongside that of developing more accessible and accountable conventional criminal justice responses.
© 2014 Hart Publishing. This is the author-manuscript version of this paper. Reproduced in accordance with the copyright policy of the publisher. Please refer to the journal's website for access to the definitive, published version.
Law and Legal Studies not elsewhere classified