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Women sceptical of ASEAN

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Cambodian women have the most to lose from the planned 2015 ASEAN integration, a coalition of more than 100 Cambodian women said yesterday at the Cambodian Women Forum.

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Because Cambodian women are so poorly educated, when the job market opens up, competition from other countries like Thailand or Malaysia will adversely affect the unemployment rate of Cambodian women, attendees said.

“The ASEAN integration in 2015 will badly affect Cambodian women, particularly in such areas as economics, industry, unemployment and external labour migration,” Thida Khus, executive director of SILAKA, said.

“This is because of how poorly educated women are.”

The Cambodian Women Forum will be calling on ASEAN to reconsider the current integration plan for 2015.

Thid Khus said the Cambodian government should raise questions with ASEAN about how this integration will affect competition in the job market between the women in other ASEAN countries.

The forum also discussed labour issues and said that garment workers, karaoke parlour employees and domestic workers are the most abused, underprivileged women in Cambodia.

Soun Sokunthea, a garment worker in Phnom Penh, said worker representatives also intend to send a complaint to ASEAN about the abuse, ill health and low wages of workers making high-priced garments.

Tun Sreyphea, 23, a karaoke worker, said that problems in her industry were common across ASEAN.

“Guests use violence and rape workers. There is pressure from the shop owner and there is social discrimination,” she said.

“We want to see this changed in all ASEAN nations.”

Sou Sotheavy, director of Men and Women Network of Development in Cambodia, said Cambodia should aim to achieve the same standards as its neighbours, in line with the ASEAN “one community, one destiny” message.

Chheang Vannrith, director of Cambodia Institute for Cooperation and Peace, said his institute will conduct a civil society forum two days before the ASEAN summit to collect recommendations and take to the summit.

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