Located in the mainland Southeast Asian region, Cambodia is bordered by Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and the Gulf of Thailand. Primarily an agricultural country, it has a per capita income of US$270.
Cambodia has a population of more than 11 million, 35% of which are literate (CIA Statistics). Most Cambodian practices Theraveda Buddhism and speaks the language, Khmer. A small number of Cambodians speak French, Chinese and English.
Cambodia is a Constitutional Monarchy.
A democratically elected Prime Minister heads the government; a National
Assembly is composed of 120 representatives. The voting age is 18. The
reigning monarch is King Norodom Sihamoni, but his duties are mainly ceremonial. The current Prime
Minister is Hun
Sen. The first democratically elected leader in recent times, Norodom
Ranariddh, was overthrown in a coup staged by Hun Sen in July 1997. Hun
Sen was subsequently elected Prime Minister in elections in July 1998,
but many human rights organizations maintain that the elections were severely
flawed by a climate of violence and intimidation. Recently, the political
situation has stabilized, but serious problems of corruption and impunity
Prostitution and trafficking in women are serious problems. Due in part to budgetary limitations, the Government has not enforced effectively a 1996 law against prostitution and trafficking in women although the Government devoted greater attention to the problem during the past year and initiated several prosecutions. Despite sporadic government crackdowns on brothel operators in Phnom Penh, prostitution continues to flourish. A survey by a local human rights NGO found that 40 percent of women and girls who work as prostitutes do so voluntarily, while 60 percent have been forced to work as prostitutes or have been deceived into prostitution. The NGO also estimated that there are up to 55,000 sex workers in the country. At year's end, the Government had begun preparation of legislation to decriminalize and regulate prostitution as part of a package of legal measures designed to address the problem of sexual trafficking of women and children.
The Constitution contains explicit language providing for equal rights for women, equal pay for equal work, and equal status in marriage. In practice women have equal property rights with men, have the same status in bringing divorce proceedings, and have equal access to education and some jobs. However, cultural traditions continue to limit the ability of women to reach senior positions in business and other areas.
According to NGO reports, women comprise 52 percent of the population, 60 percent of agricultural workers, 85 percent of the business work force, 70 percent of the industrial work force, and 60 percent of all service sector workers. Women often are concentrated in low-paying jobs in these sectors and largely are excluded from management positions.
There are a large number of active women's NGO's that train poor women and widows and address social problems such as spousal abuse, prostitution, and trafficking. An active women's media center NGO produces and broadcasts programming on women's issues. NGO's provide shelters from women in crisis. Read more from this report.
Government type: Constitutional Monarchy