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From the 7th Annual Shorty Impact Awards

Virtual Reality: Ending Gender Based Violence

Finalist in On a Shoestring


Gender-based Violence remains a critical issue in Cambodia. A third of Cambodian men admit to having used violence against women, while 49% of domestic violence survivors remain silent. Additionally, victim-blaming is very much a part of Cambodian culture, with 66% of the population believing that victims should remain silent for the sake of the family unit.

The campaign was a powerful call to action that encouraged family, friends and neighbours to Reach Out, Check In and Act, to ensure that women are safe. Our social media goal was to reach 2 million Cambodians, as part of the 16 Days of Activism Campaign to End Gender-based Violence. Due to limited funding, we had to produce the video and campaign with a budget of just $6,000USD.

One of our operational objectives is to reduce the incidence of violence against women and children in Cambodia and its destructive impact on women, girls, children, families and communities. As part of this focus, we aimed to:

Change cultural attitudes on gender-based violence

Strategy and Execution

We conducted internal and external focus groups, and we found that the culture of victim-blaming was very much woven into the fabric of the lives of Cambodian women. One of our operational objectives is to reduce the incidence of violence against women and children in Cambodia and its destructive impact on women, girls, children, families, and communities

Our Communications Strategy addressed the above focus areas through the release of the ‘Virtual Reality' video, and an interlinked social media campaign, which utilised the strengths of social media platforms and our website. Facebook was utilised as the main channel to create interest in the campaign, along with Twitter, Instagram, and Linkedin. 

The video concept was developed over several months, and discussed with a range of people. The approach for this campaign was different to previous years and had an element of risk, as the content could be considered confronting. However, we elected to proceed, as we wanted to share the harsh reality that sadly, gender-based violence can result in the death of the woman.
The VR technology allowed us to spread our message in a unique way, engaging new influencers and figures who were eager to get on board and amplify our campaign. This included reactions from The Australian Ambassador to Cambodia, as well as Cambodian influencers and celebrities. Throughout the campaign, we invited women to share their stories and/or ask for support on domestic violence. As a result, hundreds of women shared their experiences, many for the first time in their lives.

A schedule was developed for social media postings over 18 days, with the video, a selection of useful tips, reaction videos, photo reveals, and statements. A fundraising component was also included in the campaign. In conjunction, we established a resource, ACT on our website. The website provided contact information and services available to women and children, information on legislation and how women are protected by the law, and tips on how friends, neighbours or family members could recognise and support women experiencing violence, to ensure they could be kept safe. The resources are available in Khmer and English. 

We had people reach out to us directly for help with interventions, where possible we coordinated efforts ourselves, or collaborated with relevant bodies.



Our short film, released on Facebook, 25 November, received 2.4 million views. This exceeded our ambitious goal of 2 million views and marked a 66% increase in views from our previous campaign.  

The Facebook element of the campaign included 35 posts over the 18-day period, reaching nearly 4.5 million people - that’s over 25% of the Cambodian population. We received more than 1 million reactions and 11 million impressions14,000 people clicked on additional linked resources to learn how to act. Our Facebook fan base increased by 20% during the campaign.

During the campaign, we received thousands of comments, messages, and emails from people who saw the campaign and supported the call to end violence against women. The campaign created a national conversation about ending violence against women, with the strong and memorable call to action messaging of - Reach Out, Check In, Act.

We had a positive response in relation to public figures' engagement with Ambassadors to Cambodia from Australia, the UK and the US participating in the campaign alongside several Cambodian influencers.

We achieved both national and international coverage through online media channels, TV, radio, and print, which included reporting on the issue of gender-based violence, interviews with women experiencing violence and speaking with our staff working with individuals experiencing domestic violence and advocating for women’s rights in the community with local authorities and other organisations.


Video for Virtual Reality: Ending Gender Based Violence

Entrant Company / Organization Name

This Life