© 2019, Mother's Heart Cambodia, Phnom Penh, Cambodia

communications@mothersheartcambodia.org

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Sovann, a young girl with disability

March 6, 2019

“While women with disabilities face similar levels of violence from partners to women without disabilities, they experience much higher levels of emotional, physical and sexual violence by other family members. Women with disabilities [are] much more likely to be insulted, made to feel bad about themselves, belittled, intimidated, and [are] five times more likely to sexual violence at the hands of a family member. They [are] also less likely to disclose and seek help following violence.” 

IWDA (International Women's Development Agency), January 2017.

 

 

Sovann is a 13 year old teenager who lives in a poor family in the Battambang province. Her family faces hardship as her mother is very sick, and can’t afford treatment. Because of medical bills, they had to borrow money, and ended up losing their own land. Along with her 10 siblings, she had to move around a lot, ending up in a shack, where they all live together.

 

Sovann has a mental delay that prevented her from going to school. So, at a very young age, she accompanied her mother in her duties, selling rice cakes at the market. Sovann enjoys going to the market with her mother. She likes to watch the ballet of motos, and pedestrians. 

 

Last year, as she turned 13, her mother needed her to work late. Sovann took a motodop to bring back the rest of the rice cakes. On the way home, he stopped. He abused and raped her, and threatened to kill her should she talk. She didn’t understand what had happened and kept quiet.

 

Months later, her mother realised her bleeding had stopped, and her belly was getting rounder. She took her to health clinic. They referred Sovann to us. Our midwife and social worker in Battambang visited her at home, in her village.

 

She was already in her second trimester. They counselled the mother, and referred her to a partner organization that helped them convict the perpetrator. He is currently in jail.

 

Sovann and her family are given ongoing support by MHO, making sure they receive food stipend, counselling, and everything our pregnancy program has to offer.

MHO is still the only pregnancy center offering support for single women in Cambodia. 

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