The Khmer women are pleased that Vietnam has completed its obligation under CEDAW to write the report and meet with CEDAW. We hope that this spirit of cooperation continues with the Khmer people, the other main ingredient in international protection and promotion of human rights, the citizens of the respected country reporting. The Khmer people were not consulted in the drafting of this report. We seek a role in the implementation of the recommendations issued by the committee. These are real people with real problems and unless something is done immediately, the fate of these indigenous peoples will be mortally challenged.
The term Education should not limited to the Vietnamese language rather; it should include the languages of the indigenous peoples as well. In most instances, the Vietnamese government has prohibited school and temples from teaching the Khmer language, culture, history and tradition. While such acts may ensure the successful integration of the indigenous peoples and other minorities into the Vietnamese mainstream society, it erodes and violates the rights of indigenous peoples to preserve their unique identity and culture. In the heavily Khmer populated areas of Preah Trapeang [renamed Tra Vinh], only 10% of the Khmer-Krom people have a high school or higher education qualification. Over 70% of the Khmer-Krom women and men have no schooling. These figures are similar in all other provinces such as Khleang [Soc Trang], An Giang and Pol Leav [Bac Lieu]. This is a clear violation of this article. This lack of educational support and structure has meant that Khmer-Krom women are limited to becoming only farmers and peasants. No encouragement or initiatives exist to help young Khmer-Krom women obtain higher education or improve employment. Those who finish high school are faced with a lack of job opportunities and are often limited to working as farmers or teachers. Others have been forced to work in under paid jobs, working as servants to wealthy Vietnamese people, while thousands of Khmer-Krom girls have been falsely lured into trafficking. The State of Viet Nam must implement programs and initiatives to encourage the further development of the indigenous women by offering more scholarships for higher education abroad as well as opening English study centers to maximize their employment opportunities at the local, national and international level. Khmer youth and women must be provided equal access to education.
7.1 Ensuring women’s rights to vote and stand for elections Many indigenous women such as the Khmer-Krom women are certainly not aware of their very rights to vote and stand for elections. They see voting as a duty rather than a right. The Khmer-Krom women rarely stand for elections due to the unwelcoming environment and the unfamiliar territory. They go to vote, most of time, for the Vietnamese candidates, which they hardly know about the candidates’ background. The Khmer-Krom women, as well as the majority of the Khmer-Krom community, lack the overall understanding of Viet Nam’s electoral system at all levels of governments. Their beliefs are that the only people who can run for elections are the Vietnamese. Khmer women don’t know about the right to vote, let alone be a candidate to provide leadership in their community. Facing the social stigma and limited awareness of the importance of women's participation in the political life and community activities, most indigenous women stay away from the whole electoral process.
While Viet Nam appears to appreciate the underlying difficulty in promoting women’s rights, it needs to further define discrimination of women to include but not limit to the discrimination concerning minorities and indigenous women. Of primary concern is the situation of the Khmer-Krom women, who are currently facing double discrimination. First, they are discriminated because they are women and secondly because they are Khmer-Krom. Some examples include: • Miss. Dao Hai Ngan, aged 15 was raped by a Vietnamese authoritiy in Can Tho and despite appeals by UNPO and KKF, no acknowlegement or action have been initated by the Vietnamese authorities.
Kampuchea Krom is the Khmer name for the Mekong Delta region of the current state of Viet Nam. Kampuchea Krom measures up to 68,000 square kilometers and is the traditional homeland of Khmer Krom. The indigenous peoples of Kampuchea Krom are the Khmer Krom, the ancient descendents of the people of Nokor Phnom (or Funan in the corrupted Chinese translation) empire.