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Khmer-Krom Women and International Women’s Day 2011

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On March 8, the women around the world commemorate the International Women’s Day. This year marks the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day. The first time the people in Austria, Denmark, Germany and Switzerland commemorated International Women’s Day on March 19, 1911. This year, the theme of the International Women’s Day is Equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.

Do the Khmer-Krom women in Kampuchea-Krom commemorate the International Women’s Day?

On March 6, 2011, VOKK (vokk.net) interviewed a Khmer-Krom woman, Mrs. Neang Chakrya, in Swai Ton district, Moth Chrouk (An Giang) province. Mrs. Chakrya said that the Vietnamese government never invited her to attend any Women activities that are organized by the Vietnamese government. The government only invited the Vietnamese women. Most of the Khmer-Krom women don’t know about the women’s rights that are defined in the articles of the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW).

Mrs. Chakrya said that when the women stood up for their rights to demand returning their confiscated farmlands, the Vietnamese government arrested and interrogated them. In 2007, the Khmer-Krom women, Mrs. Neang Mit, Mrs. Neang Phen, Mrs. Neang Mon, Mrs. Neang Don, were arrested and interrogated in An Hao village, Tinh Bien district, An Giang province. The Vietnamese government always threatens the Khmer-Krom women to stop demanding for their confiscated farmlands and pushes them to live in poverty because they have no farmlands to farm. Mrs. Chakrya said, she will not stop demanding to return her confiscated farmland. She will not scare to die if she dies because of demanding of returning her ancestral farmland.

The women around the world are enjoying their rights to live freely as human beings. Unfortunately, Mrs. Tran Thi Chau is currently imprisoned in prison because of the land-grab dispute with the Vietnamese Authorities in Preah Trapeang (Tra Vinh) province.

Mrs. Neang Phuong who is Mr. Chau Hen’s wife is currently living in miserable also. Mrs. Neang Phuong and Mrs. Chau Hen came back to their hometown in Swai Ton District on December 17, 2010, after the UNHCR in Thailand refused to grant refugee status. Mr. Chau Hen was arrested on the same day. Now, Mrs. Neang Phuong is not even allowed to visit her Husband. She has no job and no lands to farm. She currently lives based on the help of the people in her village.

Even living in the year of 2011, the Khmer-Krom women in Kampuchea-Krom barely find food to put on the table for their family. Thus, the theme of the International Women’s Day this year only could happen in the Khmer-Krom women’s dream. The Khmer-Krom women are not allowed to form their Khmer-Krom women association. They would never have “equal access to education, training and science and technology: Pathway to decent work for women.” Most of them do not know the existence of the commemoration of the International Women’s Day.

In recent years, the Khmer-Krom girls have dropped out of school to look for works in the big cities, especially in Prey Nokor (Sai Gon) City. Because of lacking of education, the Khmer-Krom girls can only find works as servants in the Vietnamese’s families or waitress at the Vietnamese small restaurants. Some of the Khmer-Krom girls have fallen into the women trafficking ring.

The Khmer-Krom women in Kampuchea-Krom are crying for help. Hopefully, the women around the world would not close their eyes and give a hand to seek for the Khmer-Krom women’s rights and justice so the Khmer-Krom women could live as other human beings on this planet. And hopefully, next year, the Khmer-Krom women in Kampuchea-Krom could organize their own Khmer-Krom women association to commemorate the International Women’s Day.