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Health and safety still a 'major concern' for beer-promotion girls

A national workshop on workplace safety and rights for women working in the alcohol industry aims to empower employees

THE health and safety of women employed in Cambodia's ever-increasing beer promotion industry remain a "major concern", according to experts at a national workshop on workplace safety held Monday in Phnom Penh.

Sharon Wilkinson, country director of CARE International Cambodia, which along with the Ministry of Women's Affairs organised the conference, said the use of women to promote beer sales is a growing business in Cambodia, with thousands of women working nationwide, the majority in urban areas such as Phnom Penh.

"The issue of health and safety of beer promoters remain a major concern," she said.

CARE, with the cooperation of Heineken International and Cambodia Brewery Ltd, initiated a safety program for beer-promotion women nearly four years ago, Wilkinson said. She said that the project aims to empower women working within the industry by educating them about their rights, and providing them with information on reproductive health and the risks to HIV.

Government support

Minister of Women's Affairs Ing Kanthaphavi said that it is important that women working in the beer-promotion sector feel safe in their work place.

"Beer promoters are not sexual objects for men," she said.

Ing Kanthaphavi urged an end to sexual discrimination, saying, "I would like all people to give value to all types of work. Beer promoters don't sell their bodies, they sell beer."

Beer promoters have frequently been the victims of violence and even murder at the hands of men seeking sex. 

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