Cambodia

The Role of Women's Organizations in Post-Conflict Cambodia

Citation:

Frieson, Kate G. 1998. The Role of Women's Organizations in Post-Conflict Cambodia. Washington: Center for Development Information and Evaluation, USAID.

Author: Kate G. Frieson

Keywords: post-conflict, women's organizations, intersectionality, socio-economics

Annotation:

"Two decades of conflict and genocide in Cambodia, in particular the rule of terror of the Khmer Rouge, have had devastating social, family, interpersonal, economic, and political effects on women. This report, one in a USAID-funded series on women in post-conflict societies, explores the role of the indigenous women's organizations (WOs) created and nurtured by the international community to improve the lot of Cambodian women. The WOs, though numbering only 18, are empowering women through vocational training and microcredit programs and by assisting victims of HIV/AIDS, domestic violence, and trafficking and forced prostitution. They are also beginning to influence the political landscape through voter education and advocacy programs. According to one trainee: "Men cannot abuse women if women know their rights. Now we understand how to work together for justice." Yet WOs continue to face many obstacles. The country has no tradition of civil society organizations, government support is unstable, and WOs' dependence on external assistance limits their autonomy and capacity to fashion new programs. WO leadership is dominated by one charismatic figure reluctant to delegate authority. Most of the WOs have yet to develop an open management system in which the staff can discuss issues and problems freely. WOs require continual international support to survive and play an important role in improving women's social and economic conditions.

"The Cambodian experience inculcates the following major lessons: (1) Comprehensive, targeted interventions based on a coherent policy framework are needed to help women and reconstruct gender relations in post-conflict societies. Gender-blind policies and programs are not sufficient. (2) The war undermined the traditional sexual division of labor, creating new economic and political opportunities for women. Women entered into occupations closed to them earlier and held important national and local offices during the conflict. After the war, donors developed programs to consolidate those gains. This course can be followed in other post-conflict societies. (3) Education and training of women in refugee camps can prepare them to assume leadership roles in post-conflict societies. (4) Newly founded WOs can be used by the international community to channel humanitarian and developmental assistance in post-conflict societies. But WOs are also a means to help women gain self-respect and participate in decisionmaking. (5) WOs in post-conflict societies can develop local roots and gain political legitimacy despite dependence on international resources. (6) Donors should consider multi-year funding to allow WOs to focus on social, economic, and political development activities. (7) WOs often follow the example of international NGOs in their working conditions, spending considerable resources on four-wheel-drive vehicles, spacious offices, and large support staff. Such operations are questionable under the conditions of post-conflict societies. (8) Cambodian WOs should be encouraged to specialize instead of competing for external resources for similar programs." (This annotation is from Peacewomen.org)

Topics: Civil Society, Development, Displacement & Migration, Refugee/IDP Camps, Economies, Education, Gender, Women, Gendered Power Relations, Genocide, Indigenous, Justice, Political Participation, Post-Conflict, Rights, Women's Rights, Violence Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1998

Treatment for Psychosomatic Blindness among Cambodian Refugee Women

Citation:

Van Boemel, Gretchen B., and Patricia D. Rozée. 1992. "Treatment for Psychosomatic Blindness among Cambodian Refugee Women." Women & Therapy 13 (3): 239-66.

Authors: Gretchen B. Van Boemel, Patricia D. Rozée

Abstract:

A number of older Cambodian women came to the attention of the authors because of their overrepresentation among a larger group of people who exhibited functional or psychosomatic blindness: visual loss with no physiologic basis. Myriad problems are faced by the psychosomatically blind Cambodian refugee, including war-based trauma, improper diagnosis resulting in denial of claims of disability, and feelings of severe depression and isolation. It was our intention to design and test an intervention program for the 150 psychosomatically blind Cambodian women whom we have seen over a four year period. Working with fifteen of these clients, we wished to test the relative effectiveness of two different treatments in reducing psychological distress and improving well-being and visual acuity: (1) Skills in living group: treatment consisted of group sessions designed to teach minimal skills such as using the telephone and public transportation; and (2) Therapy group: treatment consisted of group therapy conducted by a Cambodian therapist. Both treatment modalities were designed to be culturally relevant, implemented by Cambodians and in the Khmer language. Extensive pre and post-treatment interviews were conducted to assess level of visual acuity, psychological and physiological functioning and experiential background. Comparison of pre and post measures showed significantly better perceived well-being and improved visual acuity in the treatment groups as compared to the control group. Such findings may be beneficial in reducing psychological distress and improving vision.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1992

Psychological Effects of War Trauma and Abuse on Older Cambodian Refugee Women

Citation:

Rozée, Patricia D., and Gretchen Van Boemel. 1990. "The Psychological Effects of War Trauma and Abuse on Older Cambodian Refugee Women." Women & Therapy 8 (4): 23-50.

Authors: Patricia D. Rozée, Gretchen Van Boemel

Abstract:

The paper discusses the life experiences of a group of older women about whom little is known: Cambodian refugees. Interview data demonstrate the superiority of environmental stress theories over psychodynamic theory in explaining non-organic blindness among this population. Subjective visual acuity was significantly related to years of servitude/internment (including forced labor, starvation, physical and sexual abuse and execution of loved ones) in communist camps during and after the fall of Cambodia in 1975. Onset of visual loss following these traumas, preceded by healthy pre-trauma functioning, suggests environmental rather than intrapsychic etiology. Physical and psychological abuse of Cambodian women during and after the fall of Cambodia is examined in depth. Suggestions for culturally-relevant interventions are discussed.

Keywords: trauma, female refugees, mental health, sexual abuse

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Sexual Violence, Sexual Exploitation and Abuse Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1990

Group Treatment of Traumatized Cambodian Women: A Culture-Specific Approach

Citation:

Nicholson, Barbara L., and Diane M. Kay. 1999. "Group Treatment of Traumatized Cambodian Women: A Culture-Specific Approach." Social Work 44 (5): 470-479.

Authors: Barbara L. Nicholson, Diane M. Kay

Keywords: trauma, counseling, mental health

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma, Humanitarian Assistance, Context-Appropriate Response to Trauma Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1999

Mental Health of Southeast Asian Refugee Women: An Overview

Citation:

Mattson, Susan. 1993. "Mental Health of Southeast Asian Refugee Women: An Overview." Health Care for Women International 14 (2): 155-165.

Author: Susan Mattson

Abstract:

Southeast Asian refugee women suffered extremely traumatic experiences at the hands of the Khmer Rouge, during their escapes from Cambodia and Laos, and in refugee camps. I describe these experiences as the background for interventions to promote and reestablish mental health in these women. A reported study of women who were experiencing psychosomatic blindness as a result of the trauma they had undergone is presented as an example. Therapeutic strategies are suggested.

Keywords: mental health, female refugees, trauma

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia, Laos

Year: 1993

'Those with Unheard Voices': The Plight of a Cambodian Refugee Woman

Citation:

Kulig, J. C. 1994. "'Those with Unheard Voices': The Plight of a Cambodian Refugee Woman." Journal of Community Health Nursing 11 (2): 99-107.

Author: J.C. Kulig

Abstract:

Refugee women and children compose 80% of the total refugee population worldwide (Martin, 1991). Such a large group is significant because of the magnitude of their need, which is often unheard or misunderstood. This article discusses the plight of a Cambodian refugee woman who was interviewed as part of a larger ethnographic study (Kulig, 1991). Theary's story reveals the differences in perceptions of events according to cultural understanding and the consequences of community shunning. Theary's case is extreme because of its complexity regarding her mental health needs, but it shares themes noted among other refugee women. Recommendations for community health nurses working with refugee women are discussed.

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1994

Refugee Experiences and Southeast Asian Women's Mental Health

Citation:

Davis, Ruth E., Michael G. Kennedy, and Wendy Austin. 2000. "Refugee Experiences and Southeast Asian Women’s Mental Health." Western Journal of Nursing Research 22 (2): 144-68.

Authors: Ruth E. Davis, Michael G. Kennedy, Wendy Austin

Abstract:

The wars in Southeast Asia displaced thousands of families from Cambodia, Laos, and Vietnam. The upheavals led to a number of waves of immigration to the United States. Current research supports hypotheses of post-traumatic stress disorder diagnoses in refugees from the wars in Vietnam but omits pertinent cultural factors. This phenomenological study of 19 women from Southeast Asia examines the meanings of their refugee experiences. Open-ended interviews with these women reveal themes of survival, despair, and isolation. Health care providers may notice cultural bereavement as opposed to post-traumatic stress disorder, reflecting a psychological resilience not extensively explored previously. Developing empathetic interactions and including important ethnic identity factors in caring for refugee women appear essential in providing appropriate health care.

Keywords: female refugees, mental health, posttraumatic stress disorder

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Ethnicity, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, PTSD, Trauma Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam

Year: 2000

Depression and Anxiety among Cambodian Refugee Women in France and the United States

Citation:

D'Avanzo, Carolyn E., and Sasha A. Barab. 1998. Depression and Anxiety among Cambodian Refugee Women in France and the United States. Issues in Mental Health Nursing 19 (6): 541-556.

Authors: Carolyn E. D'Avanzo, Sasha A. Barab

Abstract:

This study reports on Cambodian refugee data related to signs symptomatic of depression and anxiety, the tendency to worry or ruminate over past events (a culture-bound syndrome called ''Khoucherang''), and differences that might be influenced by social system and cultural practice. A sample consisting of 155 women of Cambodian national origin were interviewed in their homes in the USA and France. Answers to the research questions were collected by a focused interview to elicit demographic information, and the Hopkins Symptom Checklist (HSCL) in the Cambodian language to elicit depression and anxiety scores. Women residing in France (87%) were significantly more likely to show signs symptomatic of depression than women residing in the USA (65%). Women in the study reported about three times as much depression as the average American woman. Large numbers of women residing in both countries were symptomatic of anxiety (82% on average). Both groups experienced extreme symptoms of the culture-bound syndrome, “Khoucherang,” and appeared to be strongly influenced by the different social systems of the two countries.

Keywords: depression, anxiety, mental health, female refugees

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health Regions: Americas, North America, Asia, Southeast Asia, Europe Countries: Cambodia, France, United States of America

Year: 1998

Psychosocial Adjustment of Cambodian Refugee Women: Implications for Mental Health Counseling

Citation:

Chung, Rita C. 2001. "Psychosocial Adjustment of Cambodian Refugee Women: Implications for Mental Health Counseling." Journal of Mental Health Counseling 23 (2): 115-126.

Author: Rita C. Chung

Abstract:

Discusses psychosocial adjustment issues encountered by female Cambodian refugees relocating in the US, and appropriate psychotherapeutic responses. Such issues include employment, social support, survivor's guilt, acculturative stress, psychological distress and symptom expression, and help-seeking behavior. An appropriate model for working with such clients is the Multi-Level Model of psychotherapy (F. Bemak et al), which involves the 4 interrelated levels of psychoeducation, culturally sensitive psychotherapy, cultural empowerment, and traditional healing methodologies. (PsycINFO Database 2012)

Keywords: female refugees, mental health, counseling

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 2001

Psychological Well-Being of Cambodian Women in Resettlement

Citation:

Catolico, Olivia. 1997. "Psychological Well-Being of Cambodian Women in Resettlement." Advances in Nursing Science 19 (4): 75-84.

Author: Olivia Catolico

Abstract:

Current literature focuses on immediate needs of refugees as they flee acute crises. However, the search for refuge extends beyond immediate migration. Refugees confront many issues in resettlement. The experience of traumatic pain and multiple losses coupled with the struggle for survival in a foreign community places them at risk for diminished health and psychological well-being. The notion of recovery extends to the period of resettlement. It is imperative that nursing professionals examine assumptive biases that hinder the care and recovery of refugees. This article seeks to heighten professional awareness about issues that confront Cambodian women in resettlement by examining these biases.

Keywords: female refugees, mental health, resettlement

Topics: Displacement & Migration, Refugees, Gender, Women, Health, Mental Health, Trauma Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 1997

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