Sunday 6 June 2010

The Middle Way - Bridging the Gap Between Cambodian Culture and Children’s Rights

The Middle Way - Bridging the Gap Between Cambodian Culture and Children’s Rights
By Steve Gourley, 2009 NGO Committee on the Rights of the Child, Cambodia, 2009.

This is an exciting piece of research that addresses the lack of comprehensive information available in Cambodia relating to knowledge, attitudes, and practice of ‘children’s rights’. Awareness-raising about children’s rights (CR) has been undertaken on a large scale by civil society organisations and the government and many people in Cambodia can mention at least a few rights that relate to children. Whereas awareness is relatively high, the practice appears to significantly lag behind, especially at the family level where traditional values at times interfere with certain rights, especially when it comes to participation.

The research recommends that governmental and private agencies should adopt more culturally-appropriate methods of education and promotion if children’s rights are to be fully realized at the family level.

Children were involved in planning the research, data validation, formulating recommendations. In addition, a very high proportion of child respondents (50% of all focus group participants and survey respondents) was intentionally selected to ensure that children’s interests were clearly and directly represented in the findings.

Steve Gourley presents a very useful comparison between the values of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child and common Cambodian values.

UNCRC values in comparison to Cambodian values:

Equality and participation in contrast to Hierarchy
Transparency in contrast to Honour and Reputation
Gender equity in contrast to Patriarchy
Empowerment in contrast to Patronage
Justice in contrast to Harmony
Individualism in contrast to Collectivism

Steve Gourley notes:
“In view of the dramatic differences that exist, it is important to understand how each contributes to the overall functioning of society – and thus how and why specific values influence behaviour in a particular way. Each of the values above meets specific needs and therefore offers different benefits depending on the context in which they occur. Understanding the positive contribution of each can help decrease the tendency to judge a particular value or value system as “better” than another, illuminate how decision-making and behaviours can differ in various socio-cultural contexts, and help explain the conflicts that often occur between traditional parents and modern children.” (p.17)

No comments: