These Days We Have to Be Poor People: Women’s Narratives of the Economic Aftermath of Forced Evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Citation:

McGinn, Colleen. 2015. “These Days We Have to Be Poor People: Women’s Narratives of the Economic Aftermath of Forced Evictions in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.” Paper presented at Land Grabbing, Conflict and Agrarian-Environmental Transformations: Perspectives from East and South-East Asia Conference. Chiang Mai University, June. 

Author: Colleen McGinn

Abstract:

“This paper explores the economic aftermath of forced evictions for urban Cambodian women. It is based on an analysis of in-depth narratives of 22 women displaced from five locations in Phnom Penh, the capital city. Evictees’ overall post-eviction coping and adaptation proved to be grounded in their economic circumstances, which in turn framed other risk and resilience factors. The nature and degree of economic harm resulting from the evictions varied widely, and followed specific patterns consistent with pre-displacement socioeconomic status, livelihood source, and the degree to which social networks were embedded in their former neighborhoods. Those who worked in the informal sector experienced shocks to their livelihoods, especially those who landed in remote locations. Homeowners were more typically harmed in terms of assets: they might maintain relatively stable incomes, but lose enormous value of their properties. A third group experienced a catastrophic double blow affecting both livelihoods and assets; this group tended to include shopkeepers whose shelter and livelihoods were both tied to their property. There were also some women who reported that forced eviction had had a relatively benign impact on them. These narratives were idiosyncratic. However, several explanatory factors emerged, including these women had intact livelihoods, superficial ties to their former neighborhoods, and/or found new housing nearby. I conclude with recommendations, including compensation at full market value for seized properties, and broad urban planning measures to protect and encourage affordable rental housing within the city, proximate to diverse livelihood opportunities. A housing/shelter focus to advocacy, policy, and assistance strategies is too narrow, because it poorly addresses the livelihood crisis experienced by many of the displaced.” (Abstract from original source

Keywords: gender, land grab, eviction, Cambodia, Southeast Asia, state-gender relations

Topics: Gender, Gendered Power Relations, Gender Equity, Land grabbing, Rights, Land Rights, Property Rights Regions: Asia, Southeast Asia Countries: Cambodia

Year: 2015

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