#HRC41 – ARROW’s Statement on Cambodia’s Universal Periodic Review (UPR) outcome

July 8, 2019 samreen

United Nations Human Rights Council 41 st Session
Agenda Item 6 – UPR Adoption – Cambodia

NGO Oral Statement


Speaker Name: Samreen Shahbaz

The Asian Pacific Resource and Research Centre for Women (ARROW) makes this statement in collaboration with the Reproductive Health Association of Cambodia (RHAC).

We commend Cambodia’s commitment towards inclusive instruction on sexual orientation issues and sexual education, however gaps still remain around women and girls’ sexual and reproductive health and rights, including the right to safe, accessible and affordable abortion services.

Abortion remains a highly stigmatised issue in Cambodia despite relatively progressive legislation which permits abortion up to 12 weeks of pregnancy.[1] Awareness of the legality of abortion remains low amongst women and girls, and health-care providers. This is further conflated by stigma[2], negative beliefs and socio-cultural taboos around abortion.

In this context, it has been reported that women delay seeking abortion care and often try to self-induce an abortion.[3] When women do seek abortion care, they prefer to use private or unsafe informal providers over government providers because of the lack of confidentiality as well as unsympathetic and intimidating behaviour by government providers.[4]

Adolescent pregnancy remains a key issue in Cambodia which consequently impacts unsafe abortion rates as a result of the discriminatory conditions placed on access to abortion for young people.[5] There is limited data on abortion which further invisibilises the issue, especially among vulnerable and marginalised groups such as young women and adolescents.

We urge Cambodia to ensure the implementation of the law on abortion. We also urge Cambodia to address the barriers that prevent adequate implementation including increased awareness and service provision of safe abortion, particularly amongst the marginalised. Cambodia should also invest in evidence generation on abortion issues to better inform policies and programmes.

Thank You.


[1] For pregnancies of more than twelve weeks, abortion may be allowed in certain cases (e.g., abnormal pregnancy or rape). RHAC and ARROW. 2015. Country Profile on Sexual and Reproductive Rights for Cambodia. https://arrow.org.my/wp-content/uploads/2015/04/Country-Profile-SRR-Cambodia.pdf.

[2] RHAC, 2018, National Baseline Research: Abortion related stigma and discrimination in Cambodia, RHAC and ARROW

[3] RHAC and ARROW. 2015

[4] RHAC and ARROW. 2015

[5] RHAC and ARROW. 2015


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