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Letter: Female workers

Dear Editor,

We [students] understand that the country's progress depends on human resources.

But 90 per cent of Cambodia's female workers in factories face difficult conditions

that severely affect their health. What will happen to them?

Poverty forces them to work day and night to earn enough money to send to their poor

families while spending little money to support their health.

These women will be mothers in the future. How will the chronic weakness and malnourishment

they suffer as workers affect their children? Health science proves that the health

of the mother is a crucial factor in determining the health of her children.

Upon the completion of a "Non Violence Action" workshop our students interviewed

female garment factory workers to determine the level of violence which they are

routinely exposed to. In those interviews we learned that they were worked very hard

and faced continual, chronic health problems.

A 17-year-old worker said her factory owner did not respect the labor law and forced

the workers to work late (overtime) with little or no remuneration. To refuse was

to risk dismissal, she said.

Owners and managers of garment factories employing female workers routinely do not

bother to teach their workers how to prevent industrial accidents, or of the danger

that chemical dyes pose to their health.

These factors, combined with malnourishment and chronic fatigue, make Cambodia's

female industrial workers appear gaunt and susceptible to lung problems and skin

disorders.

According to the President of the Youth Resource Development Association, female

workers returning home after late shifts also risk robbery, kidnapping and rape.

Attempts by female Cambodian garment workers to seek redress for these problems through

the formation of trade unions bring the risk of instant dismissal from their jobs

if the owners discover their intentions.

Young Students Against Violence

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