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Cambodia’s First Feminist Punk: Vartey Ganiva’s combat against patriarchy goes mainstream

 

In Cambodia, the status of girls is still not very optimistic. Problems such as poverty, traditional concepts of male superiority, and domestic violence oppress many Cambodian women on a constant basis.

A local girl named Vartey Ganiva chose to stand up and say no. A punk singer, she wrote of her dissatisfaction with the patriarchal and her grievances against her vicious husband in her songs.

Vartey Ganiva was very active in the underground music scene in Phnom Penh. She and her band would perform at all the livehouses and music festivals. However, the underground scene in Phnom Penh was still very small and her audience was extremely limited. It was not easy to convey feminist consciousness to as many as she hoped.

An unexpected opportunity came in the form of TMS, one of Cambodia’s largest entertainment companies. They saw potential in Vartey and signed her without hesitation.

All the sudden, Vartey entered the consciousness of the mainstream and began appearing on television in music videos. Luckily, her music didn’t suffer and her message remained undeterred. She still conveyed the power of that enraged girl in the lyrics. And with her record company’s blessing, her feminist ideas have managed to seep into Cambodia’s mainstream society.

Vartey Ganiva is very clear about her mission. She said: I wanna stand up for the girls, cause that’s what I’m expected to do!

 

A short documentary directed by Zhao Renxiu & Fabian Peltsch
Presented by Subtropical Asia

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