Alcohol, and in particular the abusive behaviours it engenders, is having a harmful effect on the health of two-thirds of Cambodian women, according to a new study presented yesterday to government officials and NGOs.
“Around 58 percent of women confirmed they live with a family member addicted to alcohol and that they experience violence from their husbands or family members consuming alcohol,” said Ket Marady, head of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs Legal Prevention Department, at a conference titled Women and Alcohol.
About 66 percent of women surveyed said alcohol-induced violence is impacting their mental or physical health, she added.
According to Yung Kim Eng, executive director of the People’s Center for Development and Peace, the organisation responsible for the study, physical and emotional abuse provoked by excessive drinking is an especially significant problem for women who work in Cambodia’s ubiquitous beer gardens.
“Around 50 percent of them said that they are forced to drink alcohol when working, 54 percent of them get cursed at by guests and 46 percent were sexually abused,” Eng said.
Meanwhile, Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Services Workers’ Federation, said the workplace is becoming less safe for many of Cambodia’s “beer girls”.
“In beer gardens, the employer requires the women to drink because the employer will sell more beer,” Mora explained, noting that it’s an issue he hopes the government can address. “As a union leader, I’ve seen this trend get worse in the last three years.”