Pressures Prevent Boys From Speaking Out About Sexual Abuse: Workshop

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A man rides a motorbike in front of Buthong Tes Anlong Primary School in Ratanakiri province on September 20, 2019. (Heng Vichet/VOD)
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Cambodian boys who are victims of sexual abuse find it hard to speak out because of social pressures, a workshop about reporting on sexual abuse heard on Friday.

The workshop, held in Phnom Penh by First Step Cambodia, was attended by about 20 journalists, and discussed media reporting about the issue.

Raphaël Poutignat, development manager for First Step Cambodia, said many people expect boys to act strong and brave, and be responsible for the family, but this can discourage them from speaking about being abused.

“Boys are vulnerable, just like girls,” he said.

Most abuse is committed by people who know the victim, including family members, Poutignat said.

According to a 2012 Unicef statistic cited by First Step, only 6 percent of boys who were sexually abused reported the abuse, compared to 40 percent of girls.

Yung Chanthao, a staff member at First Step, said at the workshop that boys are often less supervised than girls, which can put them in risky situations.

Child abuse can include exposing children to sex and allowing them to use smartphones to access pornographic websites and sexually explicit material, Chanthao added.

Last year, a former monk accused of raping 12 boys at pagodas was arrested in Ratanakiri province after six years on the run.

Child Helpline Cambodia, which can be reached by phone for free by dialing 1280, offers counseling and referrals for children and young people up to 25 years old.

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