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Edited by Dr Mai, translation by PADV Cambodia (Partnership Against Domestic Violence)

***I did not want to make any changes in the translation, so the reading might be a little bit tedious...but it is worth it!***

This "law" is very present in the Cambodian culture; it was taught in school until recently and has been transmitted from generation to generation for centuries. Its influence on the current state of women's rights and gender inequality in Cambodia is unfortunately very high. It is in my mind one of the major obstacles in the fight against gender-based violence in the country.

Since it is more than 8 pages long, I cut some parts off and left the ones I found most interesting. HAPPY READING!

*               *                *

Chbap (law) Srey (woman),

Phouchhong leelia! (A kind of melody)
This is Phouchhong Leelia and we made it into the rule for girls
When (name of the princess) went away with her husband whose name was
"bongyaksa" (yaksa = giant/powerful person)

Queen Vithmolia" who is the mother said "My dear daughter"
You will go with your husband to the Dragon World
You should remember to serve your husband
Don't make him unsatisfied
Don't look down on the owner of the head (means don't touch your husband's head)

My dearest daughter, no matter how poor you are, follow the woman's rules
Don't be so mean to the neighbor and relative
Good position and happiness come from women
Being a woman, no matter what you say, don't be (leh'lah!) talking not serious, not gentle
(Cambodian women are not supposed to talk very much and be shy)
Taking a seat in the wrong place is not suitable for a woman (if you sit in the wrong place you do not deserve to be a woman in Cambodia)
If you don't feel afraid of your husband's feeling and let the other man look down on your husband
We call you a woman who is lack of good characteristic

You should try to do the work like weaving or knitting
Don't delay the work
Before you weave the silk you have to make things ready and then do it
Don't go for a walk at other people's house
Try to work hard and protect yourself since you are a virgin
Because when you have a husband you are busy with your children who are crying, you have never time to do things
Don't keep things complicated otherwise you will lose it

My Dear Daughter remember, don't forget
Please study woman's rule; be respectful to your husband
Serve him well, and keep the three flames
You have to keep the fire burning regularly
Otherwise it will burn you
Don't bring the outside flame into the house and then burn it (refers to not bringing outside problems into the house)
The inside flame, if you are not careful, you will burn it outside (refers to not taking internal problems to people outside)
You have to control your spirit and protect the three flames
This flame will benefit you the best

One flame is to keep the gratitude toward your parents
You have to walk on the way that was paved by your parents and serve your parents well
Try to protect it, give it food as desired (give the parents what they want)
If you are hungry don't keep food to yourself give your parents delicious food regularly
Your words must be polite and any duty must be done regularly and very well

Another flame is your husband who you stay with forever
You should serve well don't make him disappointed
Forgive him in the name of woman; don't speak in the way that you consider him as equal
No matter what happen we have to wait to listen with the bad word (even if he say something bad you have to listen)
Though your husband speaks inappropriately you shouldn't let the mother know
Or your husband will get angry if he hears the bad word from the mother
You are not quiet but chatting so the problem happen everlasting
Confront without stop so no more happiness
Complaining/nagging until everyone in district know the problem so no happiness
This is what we call the three flames that the mother tell the daughter to keep

My dear, no matter what your husband did wrong, I tell you
To be patient, don't say anything without the husband present
Don't curse, don't be the enemy, no matter how poor or stupid you don't look down on him
Though poor or stupid you should advise or say something with good words
No matter what the husband says, angry and cursing, using strong word without ending
Complaining and cursing because husband not pleased
You should be patient with him and calm down your anger
Don't be angry and react bad to the one who is your husband
You get angry without thinking about yourself as a woman
You have to consider yourself as a girl before you use bad words or appear angry
Deny with rude word will ignite the anger (if you use bad words you will make husband angrier)
Stubborn, staring and want to quarrel
Cursing dog and cat, insulting indirectly to hurt the husband feeling (curse the
dog or cat because you are afraid to insult him directly - as a way of insulting him
vicariously through the cat)
Throwing things (without thinking) and then it break,
Trying to do things to make the husband lose (surrender/give in)
Then feel satisfied
We call this woman the woman who ruin the prestige of the family

My Dear Daughter don't do like them they are very wrong
Even though your husband curse, you go to sleep and consider
And you come back with gentle words and solve that problem
What your husband advises you bear in mind (keep in your heart)
Don't forget the husband's word or you may do something wrong because already told
If you don't listen to the order it always creates the quarrelling and then bad reputation and never ending quarrelling happen
We don't consider this as a woman but as useless
This woman use your mouth to suppress the husband by letting other people know that she is better than him (meaning you talk and complain a lot so people will know and not respect your husband)
Because she doesn't use, doesn't let to walk, laugh at
Even though your husband ask you to do things don't be lazy to go
Don't wait regardless near or far distance, get up and go don't let your husband curse you
Don't stay at other people's house long, free or busy, be quick back home

My Dear Daughter it is rarely for the woman
No matter how good physically you are they won't select you if you don't know all the things
You will not be respected; you will be only with bad luck
You are only beautiful but if you know what to do you will be appreciated
One thing you are beautiful that can't be compared to but even a single rule you don't know
You are beautiful but have no idea
Though you are black if you are polite
You know all the good characteristics
It is traditionally called (Kalyan neh) perfect

My Dear Daughter, I want to tell you about the bad luck
If you check your husband's head for lice without doing "sampeah" (the hand palms together)
The monk will consider you as a "sak cock" (big white bird) that perches in the house and this is a symbol that you will lose the property
It is not appropriated to step over your husband, just because you want to be quick
The woman is the same as the small bird that fly away
And then this bird brings about the bad luck, fly in and fly out of the door
Consider it as when you light the fire so that the thief can see your location and take your property - you show the way to the thief

Another kind of girl laughs loudly (so that neighbors of the neighbors can hear you)
If you are this girl we consider you as the bird - sak cho:chat (this kind of bird is different but also brings bad luck when it flies into the village)

Another kind of girl, when she sleeps she turn her back to her husband
This one we consider as a bad snake and it shouldn't be let into the house
It bring bad luck and the couple will separate

The kind of woman who has long hair
She combs her hair at the top/mouth of the well like the executioner and the cat who hides its claws
She is the worst and cannot be compared to anyone (traditionally the woman cannot comb her hair in public because people will think she is trying to attract the man) this woman can comb her hair for one hour (usually it takes short time)

The other kind of woman kicking something loudly
When she walk very loudly they consider her step like a lightening sound so that her samput (skirt) it torn apart
She walks very loudly
So that the houses tremble
The other woman see something on the ground and then she move forward without picking it up (as in tidying it)
In the future she cannot get organized
Then her property will be lost
Even at the meal time she eats in a messy way

My Dear Daughter you have to listen, these are the 10 bad lucks
That you should avoid seven times
That is the Buddha

*               *                *

So now my OPEN* question is: Do you think that the Chbab Srey has anything to do with the fact that women remain silent about the violence of their husbands and even blame themselves for it?

*It really is an open question.

Tag(s) : #Speak out!
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