This letter is in response to the article in the Phnom Penh Post newspaper May 21,
2004 regarding HIV testing of garment workers ("Plan to test garment factory
The article claimed that they want to test garment workers because they are a mobile
group of women who have left their provincial homes to find work in the city.
We feel that testing us for HIV will lead to increased discrimination against us.
This testing has no value to us but the results could further harm our reputations.
Previously, sex workers were blood tested because it was assumed that they had many
partners and are a mobile group. Now they focus on garment workers because they are
a mobile group of predominantly women.
Garment workers receive a lot of abuse and are stigmatized in society. This is an
injustice because we try to work hard to help our families and to promote the economy.
We never think about helping ourselves. Other people tell us that we are bad girls,
illiterate, easily persuaded by others, and they treat us as having no value.
Although we agree to do the test, we want all people all over the country to be tested
also. This should not only be focused on garment workers but the testing should also
include official staff, NGO staff, students, vendors, farmers, and all other people
in the factories. If they test everyone, then they are giving equal value, rights,
and justice to everyone. This will ensure that garment workers are not further discriminated
We want all of the people in society to support us, not test us.
The ministry office should reconsider this program before it is implemented. We support
the prevention of the spread of HIV and the efforts to combat this disease because
we know that this is a problem for everyone. We want to inform our co-workers so
that they think about these issues before they agree to be tested.
Nobody can force us to do this testing nor can they dismiss us from work if we do
not submit to testing.
Ms Seng Chanthy - Representing 300 women garment workers