Recently, Phnom Penh Governor expressed his intention to request to Ministry of Interior to ban girls under 16 year old from going out alone without parents accompany after 9pm. His belief is that young girls are likely to show up at clubs, karaoke bars or other entertainment places where only adult should be allowed. He asserted that this proposal is aimed to promote the morals of the girl in society (Girls Curfew Proposed, Phnom Penh Post, Friday, August 28, 2009)
With his so-called morality claim, i would doubt if his proposal would effectively respond to the addressed problems. Instead, i could see two fallacies in his proposed idea:
Lack of Gender Promotion
Though he attempts to defend that girl curfew policy would help to promote girl morality, he too far ignores the gender mainstream and misbelieve about girls entertainment habits. His arguments was based on his belief that girls likely to appear at nightclubs or karaoke bars. It is doubtful of how many percents or girls he would witness? or whose girls he refer to? I supposed he may mix up with the club workers who somehow are young girls that most customers (the adult or middle age men demand so).
If he would promote girl morality by prohibiting them not to go out at night, it will bring another side of effect which girls rights to education, to mobility, or free will of her livelihood will be deprived. Some girls may still on her way at night from schools (english or other skill classes) or her working places to home. So with the governors proposal, it seem contrast to gender equity which government attempts to achieve.
Inconsistency of the problem and solution
His concern is that 16-year-old girls should not be allowed to visit nightclubs or adult entertainment areas which will harm to girl morality. If the governor wish to address this problem, his prohibition on the girls from mobility sound awkward. Alternative solutions he can suggest and must act on, as a governor, should be:
Strengthen the entertainment club rules: If there is already an existing rule which only adult (mostly above 18-year-old) can be allowed to enter the night club or other entertainment spots, it should be strengthened and monitored closely by the city hall or responsible agencies. By claiming to witness girls under 16 year old at nightclubs, it indicates the government agencies failures in strengthen its rules.
Establish more social infrastructure for children: As far as city development or beautification concern, the governors should establish more public spaces or parks where children can have their own entertainment zones. It apparently lack of public spaces while many adult entertainment spots, even gambling clubs, are allowed to rise. At the same time, the role of government is to provide safety to the children, so they better to take their patrols in banning girls to ensure social security from robbery, rapping, and other harms instead.
Morality through Education: Morality should be always started from education, not prohibition or government directive orders. There must be programs to educate children on how to act morally and behave properly since they were young. Also, parents will take much responsibility for this awareness. Thus, what the city hall can take their role in are to cooperate with Ministry of Education to strengthen the morality education and to organize community events where community members including parents, children can learn the morality awareness.