Portrait: Ton Tawri, Cambodia’s Standards for Women’s Liberation


At 32, Ton Tawri already has a lot to say. Born in Kandal province and raised on a farm, he has now written 7 books. She is considered by readers to be the standard bearer for the liberation of women in Cambodia. Her book “A Perfect Woman”, an autobiography, was a huge success and has been translated into 3 different languages.

Ms. Tawri gave an interview to VOD on how she became a writer and how she inspired the new generation of young writers.

VOD: How did you get into writing?

தவ்ரி : A dream. My dream has been to be a writer since I was 9 years old. I always knew that when I grew up, I would become a writer. I wanted my identity to be recognized as the author of this or that book. But I do not know if this is possible because my parents were farmers and we lived in the countryside. However, I never gave up on this dream.

In 2010, Ms. Tawri participated in a weekly seminar organized by the non-profit association “Room to Read”, which organized a competition to write children’s books. He won this competition and his book was published.

VOD: How did you feel when you saw your book in print?

தவ்ரி : I was very happy at the time. After they picked up my book, I ran to tell my friend that I had become an author. Although my book was written only for children, I was very happy to see it published with a few pages and many pictures.

VOD: What is your motivation to write “a perfect woman”?

தவ்ரி : I was working on an adventure tour at an American company in Los Angeles. Then I had to go to America as a coach. In the spring of 2015, the company asked me if I could write about my experience as a Khmer woman, especially about social norms and the pressure on women in this community. So I wrote a story of about four pages, which was published by the company, and I also published it on my website.

I got a lot of feedback to say that the article spoke to many Cambodian women who did not have the opportunity to express themselves. Then I thought I could do more than these four pages and thought it would be interesting. But I have no experience writing stories for adults.

So that was very difficult. I worked on myself and found the solution. I went to my own village and stayed for five days.

I thought a book about three generations of women struggling to break free from social restrictions might be interesting.

In fact, my grandmother never went to school. According to my mom, she got smart and excellent marks, but was encouraged because they did not understand the value of her talent. My mom didn’t get the chance she deserved. Then came my generation, and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to higher education with the encouragement of my family.

I can say that I am the one who broke the circle because I am the one who can function freely and better like my brother in these three generations.

VOD: How long did it take you to write this book?

தவ்ரி: It took me 10 months and 15 days. I brainwashed for a year before printing on January 15, 2016.

Tawri took full advantage of her savings and self-published A Proper Woman. She faced many challenges then and today. Writing has always been a difficult art.

“I gave up almost twice. Once my teacher took almost half of what I wrote,” she says of “a perfect woman.”

In the past, unrecognized book printing – a non-profit for writers – was common and encouraged writers. But she and other writers find more confidence in reading and writing.

VOD: What happened after your book was published?

தவ்ரி: A student texted me a year ago asking me to read my book and talk to him. She told me that she was motivated to try to get good grades in school. Recently she texted me again that she got A, so I scrolled back to see our old conversations, and she promised me.

Another said he wanted to kill himself. But she gave up that thought after reading my book. She should not think in short order, there are a lot more gifts in life than you think. In my book, there is an area where life is a special gift. This quote changed his mind. It has been a year since my book came out.

This is the only book, but most of my books encourage people not to give up on their dreams. So readers are always thinking about what they have read.

VOD: What has changed for teachers between yesterday and today?

தவ்ரி: When I published my first book in 2016, there were really no young writers. If there had been, it would have been easier for me to ask them for information. At the time, it was very difficult. Recently, there are many emerging writers and books of all kinds. The production of books has also improved in quality and has more readers than ever before.

There are more and more young writers; They are starting to publish more and more books. We communicate with each other through social media. There are also young writers who have contacted me asking for help on how to publish books and where to print.

VOD: What’s special about books?

தவ்ரி: Books express countless voices, and when people read it they think it is related to their own life. These are stories about hope, never give up and fight to achieve your dreams.

Keat Sorithevi

Thanks to Lepetitjournal.com Vodenglish.news For allowing him to translate this article and thereby making it available to the French-speaking public.

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