Transformations in Gender Relations among Cambodian Immigrants in France Since 1975

By Karine Meslin

Immigrant Cambodians in France since 1975 have been political refugees fleeing civil war and the Khmer Rouge. Although male domination in this culture has remained relatively stable, it was not reinforced in France because men and women arrived at the same time. The familial model was undermined by events experienced by the immigrants in Cambodia as well as styles of life in France. Studies concerning Cambodian women reveal that conditions of exile transformed the sexual order in an accelerated fashion, generating ruptures in the gender identities of both men and women. However, the result of such ruptures was more complex than a simple emancipation of women from traditional models. This study also reveals that Cambodian women adopted different strategies of adaptation to their new environment, both at the familial and the community levels.

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