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Secretary-General of DAC Says Situation of PWDs in Cambodia is Getting Better

PHNOM PENH: The Secretary of State of the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation and Secretary-General of Disability Action Council (DAC), Em Chan Makara, has said that Cambodian persons with disabilities have now become highly regarded by the Royal Government, who also urges them to take part in the development of the country. He said the situation today is unlike in the past when persons with disabilities faced widespread discrimination in society.

Speaking at the Policy Discussion on "Moving Forward to Ensure a Sustainable Society through the Effective Implementation of the National Disability Strategic Plan" on Wednesday morning, 30 November 2022, Secretary of State Em Chan Makara stated that since the Royal Government passed the Law on the “Protection of Persons with Disabilities and the Promotion of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” on 2 July 1999, along with other sub-decrees, persons with disabilities in Cambodia are now more promoted and supported in society.

The Secretary of State recalled that before the law and sub-decrees were passed, persons with disabilities faced severe discrimination in society and were not promoted or protected by the Royal Government like they are today.

"In the past, we had beggars with disabilities on the streets, and they were rarely given attention before the law came into force," he said.

"If they begged in front of a house or business, the owners would open the door and evict the beggars then throw rice to dispel bad luck because of [discriminatory superstitious beliefs]. Comparing [the situation of] persons with disabilities and people who do not have disabilities, when weddings were organized, persons with disabilities would not be accepted [as performers] at ceremonies. But now persons with disabilities are starting to get promoted more so they can not only perform at general programs, but are also encouraged to perform on stage. Some embassies also provide opportunities for persons with disabilities.”

The Secretary of State for the Ministry of Social Affairs has said that the achievements made through the implementation of the laws and sub-decrees promoting the rights of persons with disabilities have also given them the opportunity to stand up against discrimination in society and discrimination faced in their own family and community.

"Before, any family that had a child with a disability rarely sent their child outside because they were ashamed, they did not want their children to be outside for fear of being called a parent of a blind or deaf child, and so on," he said. "That shame made these children lose a lot of opportunities to learn and participate in social work."

The Secretary of State further added that persons with disabilities have also been joked about publicly in the past. He said, "Even comedy groups would play persons with disabilities on stage [in discriminatory ways]. Now all these activities have been eliminated."

A senior official of the Ministry of Social Affairs noted that persons with disabilities are now able to receive a high education, making them more capable to develop skills and participate in social work. According to Secretary of State Em Chan Makara, more than 3,000 persons with disabilities have joined Ministries and private sector institutions, including more than 800 who are women. At the same time, the Royal Government has also provided financial support to nearly 70,000 families with disabilities.

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