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The life of a beer garden girl


‘Do not judge a book by its cover,’ we say. It’s true. We are all different. We were all born to different families. We face different situations in our lives. We have different personalities. We deal with problems and make decisions differently. We can’t judge people for being different.

Meet O.S.M, who wants to conceal her identity. Born to a desperately poor family in the provinces, she started working in a Phnom Penh beer garden to raise money to help them. Now she is sleeping with the customers for money, and dreams of having an education.

O.S.M was born in a rural area, where she grew up with three sisters and two brothers. Her father repairs bikes, and her mother sells boiled-corn. They are both illiterate. She has not been to school since she was six years old. Her parents prefer her to help with household duties. When she was in grade five they urged her to find a job in Phnom Penh to relieve the burden on the family.

Because she had such a low level of education, she was recommended to work as a beer seller. Every night, she has to keep the customers company and serve them late into the night. She feels her life is going nowhere and has done since she started working there four years ago.

Three months into the job a customer from the Phillippines asked her to go out with him. “I don’t want to, because I know that something bad might happen to me if I see him. But I have no choice. My mum comes and asks for money from me all the time, even though I tell her I don’t have it. She forces me to earn money for her. At night, I make love to him for US $200.”

“This is my way of life. All the money I get, I send to my family. They don’t care how I make it – their only concern is when I can give it to them. I really want to pursue my study, just like other young people. I never wanted to quit my study, but life didn’t give me the choice. If I was educated, I would never be doing this job.”



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