At Colby, she also thought of other services that her organization could do, such as launching a scholarship program for girls. “I feel that education was so helpful to protect a girl from human tracking during that time. And this program has continued for some of the girls now. Even some of them graduated from university right now,” she said.
The 2004 Oak Human Rights Fellow was Chanthol Oung, the founder and executive director of the Cambodian Women’s Crisis Center. She and her organization worked to help victims of domestic violence, sex trafficking, and rape, through intervention and protection services, legal assistance, monitoring, community education, and raising awareness through the media.
The CWCC has enabled thousands of women and children to leave situations of violence or exploitation through providing shelter, health care, counseling, vocational training, and reintegration with their families. In 2001, her work was recognized through receipt of both the Japanese Human Rights Award and the Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership.
Chanthol is now living with her family in the United States. She is still a founder and Management adviser of CWCC and she also works as the manager of the Marriage Enrichment and Fatherhood project of the Cambodian Association of America and multiple groups in the Cambodian community here in the United States.
It was also through the fellowship that she was able to take a step back and evaluate her next steps. She conducted a study of human tracking laws in several countries, including the U.S., Cambodia, and the Philippines. She also from the Waterville police, who visited her class and talked about how they help domestic violence victims. “It was so impressive,” she said; at the time Cambodia didn’t have similar kinds of institutional support.
She continued to work with human rights organizations in the U.S. In 2017 she received her Ph.D. in public policy and administration. “My degree previously was on law,” she said. “In Cambodia there’s a lack of good policy writing, [that] is why I take public policy. We need to have good policy that share the common good.” Last December she returned to Cambodia and began working for Arbitration Council Foundation, a national organization settling collective labor disputes. Although she is no longer working on human tracking, she said, “in terms of human tracking and in terms of awareness raising, prosecution, are much better than before but the issue is still critical. Many Cambodians are poor, they still look for [a] job in a neighboring country. They will be tracked, they will be exploited. It’s still one of the serious issues that needs to be tackled.”
At Colby, she also thought of other services that her organization could do, such as launching a scholarship program for girls. “I feel that education was so helpful to protect a girl from human tracking during that time. And this program has continued for some of the girls now. Even some of them graduated from university right now,” she said. She also had Colby interns at her organization.Currently, the CWCC is planning to expand its programs and services to other provinces and countries, like the Kompong Cham province, where female trafficking is occurring all the time. Additionally they would like to expand to Malaysia as well and attempt to end abuses of Cambodian migrant workers and trafficked victims there. CWCC has also conducted research on trafficking of women to Taiwan and is lobbying both governments to address these issues. CWCC is fundraising to provide a national training to the elected commune counselors on newly adopted domestic violence law to help to create national and local networks of commune counselors to enforce the domestic violence law and provide appropriate intervention and protection for the victims.
The CWCC has also received many awards in the last few years. These include the United Nation of Population Award for promotion of women’s health and dignity, Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, Germany Award on Human Right, and International Women of Courage Award from the US State Department.
How Can I Help?
Want to learn how you can support the work of Colby’s 2004 Oak Fellow Chanthol Oung in her struggle to gain attention and accountability for her cause?
Read about Chanthol’s work