anasalva Ana Salvá

Spanish journalist based in Bangkok and focused on Women and Human Rights topics. I have covered stories in China, Philippines, Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Tunisia, Palestine and India for El País, TV5 Monde, Vice, La Tercera or Bangkok Post, among other media.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DZX7YA8ORnEhttp://bangkok.coconuts.co/2016/02/25/keeping-tradition-alive-skilled-artisans-who-make-monks-alms-bowls-handhttp://elpais.com/elpais/2015/05/14/planeta_futuro/1431620070_818906.htmlhttp://elpais.com/elpais/2015/05/18/planeta_futuro/1431955083_565502.htmlhttp://elpais.com/elpais/2016/02/12/planeta_futuro/1455280774_998269.html

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera in Thailand is a dying art. Opera companies performed for years in theaters, but the tradition is now under threat because of changing cultural habits and demographics. Nowadays these companies travel from village to village, bringing the tradition as a way to honor ancestors rather than to entertain the masses. Local Chinese temples raise the money to pay expenses.

Chinese opera became popular when Chinese migrated to Thailand in large numbers two hundred years ago. About 14 percent of Thailand’s population is ethnic Chinese. As older ethnic Chinese pass away, younger generations who have assimilated into Thai culture do not really continue the tradition. Further, just a small number of Thais of Chinese descent understand the dialect used by these opera singers.

Text: Ana Salvá

Fotos: Walter Astrada

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Thailand's soap operas promote forced...
Bangkok
By Ana Salvá
03 Apr 2016

Thailand's prime-time soap operas often depict sexual harassment and rape as a way to seduce or woo a woman, or as punishment for bad behaviour.

In 2014, a Thai viewer published an online petition asking to stop the depiction of rape as something normal. His petition garnered more than 59,000 signatures and led the Thai National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission publish the first ethical codes for TV.

Many television soap operas are adapted from old, popular Thai novels with storylines where the rape of female protagonists is commonplace. Some novels are so popular, such as Koo Kam, which is the source material for six melodramas and four films made as recently as 2013, that they've been adapted into movies and television soap operas multiple times since the 1970s.

The new TV guidelines encourage directors to be cautious when depicting violence against women, advise against showing women as victims and include content that addresses men's sexual responsibilities.

Text by Ana Salvá

Photos by Walter Astrada

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Trapped in Singapore
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
17 Jan 2016

The dream of a better life to open a business back in Burma is what made Moe Moe reach to Singapore two years ago. What she hasn't taken into account is that she would spend nine months before she won her first salary because of the deductions made by the company that brought her up here: a practice that traps women with a lot of debt and makes them withstand all kinds of abuse to get their first salary. "I was paid $ 420 Singapore [around 280 euros] and I had not a single day in 10 months," explains the 25-year old Burmese woman. Her stocky body and short stature contrast with the photos taken during the time she was abused, where she looks emaciated and beaten.

Thousands of women come to Singapore every year, attracted by the wages of this prosperous city state. But they are manipulated by agents and employers. The conditions of some of them here are similar to slavery. In the 90's the government encouraged women to the labor market and increased the number of visas available for foreign domestic workers to take care of the household chores. But after the crisis of 1997, agencies sought a new way to make money advertising the "zero dollars maids," meaning that the placement rates must be paid by workers when employers did before. The situation has been getting worse over the years. If at first the workers paid 3 to 6 months of their salary, now could be up to 10 months; a practice that traps women with a lot of debt and makes them withstand all kinds of abuse to get your first salary. In addition, many of them have no day off a week and have difficulty asking for help.

The lucky women who have the day off use to meet in public spaces for picnicking or in the vicinity of some malls. There seem hasty to take advantage of their limited free time, make new friends or meet other migrants who are looking for a romance. Sunday is always short for them. When night falls, they must return to the places where they work and stay. In recent years there have been some changes, such as improving some social norms or a gradual increase in law enforcement. Starting next December, agencies will have to be evaluated as a requirement to renew their licenses. However, only employers may evaluate, leaving aside domestic workers; HOME, a local organization, demands that it is incorporated before it takes effect, so they can have a protective mechanism to alleviate the extreme vulnerability they face.

Text by Ana Salvá

Photos by Omar Montenegro

Cartoons by Omar Montenegro (by request)

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Drawing Until the Last Drop of Ink
Kuala Lumpur
By Ana Salvá
27 Jan 2016

The government of Malaysia does not find Zunar’s drawings amusing. But his satirical drawings denouncing official corruption and electoral fraud have made him a widely known figure in the country. He is waging a high profile war against the prime minister Najib Razak, even though the authorities are making efforts to ban his work.

Zunar, 53, faces nine charges sedition over a serie of tweets he posted last February in which he criticized the controversial court ruling sentencing the opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim to five years in prison. Zunar is currently free on bail, but faces a possible sentence of up to 43 years in jail. “In Malaysia they treat me as a criminal, “ he claims.

*FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE

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A Transsexual Couple Fights for Right...
Bangkok
By Ana Salvá
17 Dec 2015

Sam and Yollie love each other as much as any other ordinary couple. What makes them different from many others is that Yollie was born in the body of a man, while Sam the body of a woman, and both are transgender. Two years after beginning their relationship, they are fighting to have their gender identities recognized, marry and consider the option of adopting a child. "We think of our future", explains Yollie.

Thailand is a country that holds every year a Miss Universe pageant for transsexuals, and where sex changes are advertised in the newspapers, but the rights of the transgender community are far from being equal to those of other men and women. For starters they are not even legally recognized.

Sam and Yollie have undergone each a complete change operation sex, but continue to maintain their gender of birth in official documents and cannot marry. Such unions between a transsexual and a man or a woman are considered same-sex marriages and have no legal validity.

"Legally we cannot get married the way we are. Sam would be my wife and I would be her husband. If we adopt a son, Sam will be the mother and I will be the father. Do you think I want to marry Sam as a husband or that he wants to marry me as a wife? Do you think I want to be the father of my son?”, asks Yollie, who is the president of the TransFemale Association of Thailand. Next year the association will be renamed as Transgender Association to give transmale people like Sam the chance to join.
*Full Article Available Upon Request

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Living locked in a building
Bangkok
By Ana Salvá
14 Sep 2015

A Palestinian family arrived in Bangkok two years ago after fleeing the war in Syria. Since then the 17 relatives have been virtual prisoners in a 65 square metre apartment, too terrified to go outside for food or medical treatment because Thailand doesn't recognise refugees

Text: Ana Salvá

Photos: Olmo Reverter

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Mobile App Combats Gender Violence in...
Tbong Khmum
By Ana Salvá
31 Mar 2015

Three women have received funding and technological support from the Asia Foundation to develop mobile applications in order to raise awareness of domestic violence in Cambodia and open the door for women who want to report abuses by mobile phone. According to the organization, 93.7% of Cambodians currently have a phone.

Sum Dany’s application is the first under development. "There will be four videos. One will give an explanation of the meaning of violence. Another will explain the risks faced by women and girls. The third will show the laws of violence and victims’ protection that can help them. Finally, the fourth will explain how traditional conduct discriminates against women. Some recommendations will be made. Then there will be a game with questions about gender violence”, she says.

22% of Cambodian women claim to have suffered from physical, sexual or emotional abuse from their husbands. 5% of Cambodian men have participated in at least one gang rape, one of the highest percentages of countries in Asia. Moreover, 38.4% of Cambodian men who committed an act of sexual aggression did not suffer any consequences for doing so.

Some women are discouraged from reporting the facts to the authorities out of fear they will not be believed. They consider going forward to the police a useless means of seeking justice. Worse, it could even worsen the situation by putting them in danger of retaliation, shame and the loss of reputation within their communities.

In cases of rape or abuse, the most common solution is to settle in court or employ the traditional code of conduct taught to girls in school that teaches them to remain silence in view of their husbands’ abuse. “Women in many cases are compensated with money. They are asked to keep quiet or leave home when their husband is angry”, says Dany. This code was removed from school curriculums in 2007 but its influence continues to be taught outside the classroom. 96.2% of Cambodian men and 98.5% of its women still think a woman should obey her husband.

Changing attitudes, whether online or in schools, is one of the basic tasks needed to break the silence imposed by Cambodian society on its women and girls.

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

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Thailand: A Solar-Powered Path to Dev...
Mae Sot, Thailand
By Ana Salvá
09 Dec 2014

FULL ARTICLE AVAILABLE ON REQUEST

Access to electricity is a key element in development. However, in Thailand there is an important gap in access to energy between rich and poor that has persisted over the years, especially in rural areas. The situation is critical in some marginal areas, such as the Thai-Burma border.

The lack of electricity makes these communities more vulnerable. In these areas, some villagers depend on candles or kerosene lamps that are very expensive and have a negative impact on their health. They also pose serious risks to their livelihoods since their homes are usually constructed with bamboo and dried leaves that can easily catch fire. On the other hand, these communities must gather wood in order to satisfy their most basic needs, tasks that are normally carried out by women, cutting into the time and energy they could devote to other economic activities. Moreover, some schools and hospitals do not have access to power for needs as basic as keeping vaccines refrigerated.

The Thai government implemented solar energy systems in more than 200.000 households in 2004. However, most of the systems died because of the lack of maintenance. In this context, a Thai woman founded an organization to refurbish the old equipment and to train local people on how to maintain it. Her project aims to be self-sustainable. If successful, it could bring some much needed relief to families who currently struggle to meet their energy needs.

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Poisoning water
Mae Toen
By Ana Salvá
14 Aug 2014

Mae Toen is a small rural village located in the province of Lampang, 500 kilometres away from Bangkok. The village is close to a fluoride mine, and despite its closure 40 years ago, the nearby artificial lake where the water overflows during the rainy season has become polluted.

Having no other water supply, people of Mae Toen turned to the polluted lake for their needs. Three generations later, the village is still very sick and the symptoms can be seen – children may experience brain damage, deaf-mutism or slow brain development, while some of the older women have an enlarged thyroid gland on their necks, as did their parents before them.

"The problem we have is that in Mae Toen, the groundwater is used for eating and cooking, and this is contaminated with excessive amounts of fluoride," says Dr. Chatpat Kongpun, who works at the Ministry of Public Health Thailand. "Some of the younger generation still suffer health problems, but their problems are not as severe as those of the older people," he says.

Da, 64, works as a housekeeper in Mae Toen. She grew up with the habit of drinking from the lake, and when she was 34, she developed thyroid problems that have stayed with her all her life. Despite the awfully uncomfortable looking swelling in her throat, a condition called goiter, she still manages to work and spend time with her family.

"I have thyroid problems since some time ago, and I have become accustomed to it,” she says. I can work at home and it doesn’t hurt. I can go everywhere around the village.”

When her lump appeared, Da didn’t give it too much thought. She didn’t bother to go to the doctor because she already knew what was going on. When she was younger, she had seen a similar swelling on her mother's neck and the necks of other older villagers who had also drunk from the lake.

"My mother had the same lump as mine but smaller," Da says. "For the last 20 years the lump hasn’t grown. The doctor told me that they can remove it, but I won’t. I am weak and I could bleed to death."

In Thailand and other Southeast Asian countries, the shortage of drinking water is a serious problem because it usually rains only in the monsoon season between May and October, making it not sufficient to supply people’s needs.

In 2003, the Rotary Club of D'Entracasteaux of Tasmania, Australia, mobilised to help solve the problems caused by fluoride in Mae Toen, introducing a water tank supply which provided the villagers with receptacles to store the rainwater.

Officially, nobody drinks from the lake anymore, but the supply may not be enough to get people through the dry season. “About 50 percent of pregnant women [still] suffered from iodine deficiency when I worked in the village last year”, said Pornithida Padthong, who was head of communications at UNICEF Thailand until 2013 and worked in Mae Toen, suggesting that people in the village may still risk drinking contaminated water today.

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Women-only carriages in Thailand
Bangkok
By Ana Salvá
31 Jul 2014

On August 1, 2014, the Thai government brought back train carriages for women and children under 10 years old. These carriages ceased to be operational in 2002 due to financial losses.

This move comes after the shocking rape and murder of Nong Kaem, a girl of 13 who was traveling on an overnight train to Bangkok on July 6. Since this incident hundreds of thousands of people are pressuring the government to take action and toughen penalties for sex offenders, calling for capital punishment.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 07
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Two children watch the performance of a Chinese opera near Ayuttaya, north of Bangkok. As time goes by Chinese opera performers see fewer new faces in the audience. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 08
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

A member of the opera company applies makeup near the stage. Some of performers are sold into the troupe as children and raised in the company with little education. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 05
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera company members ready for a performance. The actors and singers carry on the tradition as a way to honour ancestors rather than to entertain the masses

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 06
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

An audience member enjoys the performance of a Chinese opera near Ayuttaya, north of Bangkok. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 03
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

Chinese opera companies travel from one village to another in Thailand performing in local fairs and festivals. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 04
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

A portrait of one of the performers. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 02
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

An opera company member applies makeup before the performance. The child is the son of a couple of the performers who accompanies his parents in their nomadic life. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Dying Chinese Opera in Thailand 01
Ayutthaya
By Ana Salvá
23 Mar 2016

One of the star performers applies makeup before going on stage. He is one of the few who continue to sing in Chinese dialect. Some of the company are ethnic Chinese, but others are rural Thais who were sold into the troupe when they were children. Picture by Walter Astrada.

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Singapore workers 14
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
22 Mar 2016

Cartoon example. More available by request.

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Singapore workers 11
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
22 Mar 2016

A Burmese is enjoying his Sunday off with friends at the gates of Peninsula Plaza shopping center

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Singapore workers 13
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
22 Mar 2016

Ummai, 34, poses near a central street in Singapore. She is a domestic worker from Indonesia who arrived to Singapore in the 90's. She worked at the home of employers who forced her to sleep with a mattress on the balcony and had not a single day off. A few years later, she started the Indonesia Family Network thanks to the generosity of her current employers that allow her time off work if her conferences or activities require

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Singapore workers 10
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
22 Mar 2016

A young Burmese is at the gates of Peninsula Plaza shopping center

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Singapore workers 12
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
22 Mar 2016

A couple of friends enjoy their Sunday off in Península Plaza, where Burmese domestic workers use to meet. Since 2012, domestic workers are entitled to wage once a week. This law has generated controversy because there are those who are convinced that the government has not done enough to meet international rights, while others complain of not being able to control the time of those women with the risk of establishing relationships or become pregnant.

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Singapore workers 08
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
17 Jan 2016

A group of Burmese domestic workers just met at the Peninsula Plaza mall. Women who have the day off on Sunday tend to meet in public spaces for picnicking or in the vicinity of some shopping centers.

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Singapore workers 09
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
22 Mar 2016

A couple of friends enjoy their Sunday off in Península Plaza, where Burmese domestic workers use to meet. Since 2012, domestic workers are entitled to wage once a week. This law has generated controversy because there are those who are convinced that the government has not done enough to meet international rights, while others complain of not being able to control the time of those women with the risk of establishing relationships or become pregnant.

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Singapore workers 05
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
22 Mar 2016

Kee Hli Pai and her friend Awe Hung are enjoying their day off in Península Plaza, where they use to meet Burmese domestic workers on Sundays. There seem hasty to take advantage of their limited free time, make new friends or meet other migrants who come in search of romance. Sunday is always short for them. By nightfall they must return to the places where they work and stay.

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Singapore workers 06
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
17 Jan 2016

A group of Burmese domestic workers just met at the Peninsula Plaza mall. Women who have the day off on Sunday tend to meet in public spaces for picnicking or in the vicinity of some shopping centers.

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Singapore workers 04
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
17 Jan 2016

Misanda and her friend Mimika are enjoying her weekly day off in Singapore. Domestic workers saw recognized their right to wage a day off a week in 2012, although some of them traded the day in exchange for financial compensation to add to their meager incomes.

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Singapore workers 03
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
17 Jan 2016

Misanda, a 20 years old Burmese domestic worker, is enjoying her weekly day off in Singapore. Domestic workers saw recognized their right to wage a day off a week in 2012, although some of them traded the day in exchange for financial compensation to add to their meager incomes.

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Singapore workers 02
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
17 Jan 2016

Misanda, a 20 years old Burmese domestic worker, is enjoying her weekly day off in Singapore. Domestic workers saw recognized their right to wage a day off a week in 2012, although some of them traded the day in exchange for financial compensation to add to their meager incomes.

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Singapore workers 01
Singapore
By Ana Salvá
22 Mar 2016

Moe Moe looks at Singapore from the elevator of a shopping center where is located the organization that helps her after being abused by her employers. She was hired to take care of 3 children and the household chores. Her working day began at 5 am and ended at midnight. She ate white rice three times a day accompanied by a glass of water and received punches as punishment when stealing food in the kitchen. In April will began the trial against her employers

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malaysia political cartoons 05
Kuala Lumpur
By Ana Salvá
27 Jan 2016

Cartoon by Zunar

Prime minister & wife linked with a major corruption scandal, worth USD700 million (equal to RM 1.2 billion Malaysian money). The cartoon show that the couple got billions, while the people get very little.

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malaysia political cartoons 04
Kuala Lumpur
By Ana Salvá
27 Jan 2016

Cartoon by Zunar

BN is the ruling party in Malaysia, so the title "Pirate of Carry BN" explains all. The big hair is the caricature of the wife of the prime minister.

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malaysia political cartoons 03
Kuala Lumpur
By Ana Salvá
27 Jan 2016

Cartoon by Sukhbir Cheema

Cartoonist reaction to ISMA telling Muslims not to wish Christians Merry Christmas.

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malaysia political cartoons 02
Kuala Lumpur
By Ana Salvá
27 Jan 2016

Cartoon by artist Sukhbir Cheema

Drawn in response to Najib's U-turn on his promise to repeal the Sedition Act.

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Transgenders in Thailand 03
Bangkok
By Ana Salvá
17 Dec 2015

Yollie and Sam on holiday in the Maldives

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Transgenders in Thailand 01
Bangkok
By Ana Salvá
09 May 2015

Yollie and Sam at a coffee shop in Bangkok

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User Testing
Phnom Penh
By Ana Salvá
20 Apr 2015

Phat Sreytouch conducts a user test on an application she and two other women are developing, dedicated to improving the social situation of women in her country.

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Sum Dany 01
Phnom Penh
By Ana Salvá
20 Apr 2015

Sum Dany is part of a three-woman team developing a first-of-its-kind mobile application to raise awareness and report cases of domestic abuse in Cambodia.

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Sum Dany 02
Phnom Penh
By Ana Salvá
20 Apr 2015

Sum Dany and Phat Sreytouch talk at a conference dedicated to women's rights and social media about their application. The two are part of a three-woman team developing a first-of-its-kind mobile application to raise awareness and report cases of domestic abuse in Cambodia.

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Animation 03
Tbong Khmum
By Ana Salvá
08 Apr 2015

The mobile app uses simple animations to illustrate situations in the everyday lives of women.

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Animation 01
Tbong Khmum
By Ana Salvá
08 Apr 2015

The mobile app uses simple animations to illustrate situations in the everyday lives of women.

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Animation 02
Tbong Khmum
By Ana Salvá
08 Apr 2015

The mobile app uses simple animations to illustrate situations in the everyday lives of women.

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Animation 04
Tbong Khmum
By Ana Salvá
08 Apr 2015

The mobile app uses simple animations to illustrate situations in the everyday lives of women.

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Cambodian Woman 01
Cambodia
By Ana Salvá
27 Feb 2015

Kraen and her husband have reconciled after a group therapy. Divorce is difficult to achieve in Cambodia. "I asked for divorce several times, but he did not agree," she says.

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Cambodian Woman 05
Cambodia
By Ana Salvá
27 Feb 2015

Ey and her husband earn less than two dollars a day. He uses to spend all the money on alcohol and yelling to her when they had nothing to eat. She was so desperate that began to hit their children. "I tore the branches of trees and beat them. Sometimes I threw them my own shoes, but did not want to hurt them" she says.

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Cambodian Woman 06
Cambodia
By Ana Salvá
27 Feb 2015

Kraen endured daily beatings from her alcoholic husband without reporting, even when provoked inflammation of the head and wounds.

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Cambodian Woman 03
Cambodia
By Ana Salvá
27 Feb 2015

Ey was shouted daily by her husband and did not report abuse.

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Cambodian Woman 04
Cambodia
By Ana Salvá
27 Feb 2015

Ey working outside his home in the province of Tboung Khmom