Reducing verbal, sexual and physical harassment and increasing women’s safety are among the topics to be discussed at a first-ever summit on “beer girls” in Cambodia to be held by the organization Care International next week in Phnom Penh, according to the event’s organizers.
Care International in Cambodia is expecting more than 60 attendees at the May 31 event, including beer promotion women, NGO workers, government officials and representatives from beer companies and beer distributors, Khun Sophea, advocacy senior project officer for Care said Tuesday.
The workshop comes as Care wraps up its report on a nine-month survey of 600 beer promotion women in six areas, including Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang and Sihanoukville, Khun Sophea said.
The surveys were conducted as the women were being trained on workplace safety, she said.
Care estimates that there are more than 4,000 beer girls in Cambodia and that harassment “is so widespread it is almost regarded by the women as an occupational hazard,” according to a Care statement received Tuesday.
Regional and international beer companies employ the women, some of them teenagers, to hang out in bars and restaurants to persuade customers to buy their beer brands.
The women are typically paid a small salary and commission based on how many cases of beer they sell.
The beer promotion business has been accused of promoting prostitution.
At the May 31 workshop, Care is scheduled to present its survey findings.
Government surveys have shown that beer girls are less likely than brothel workers to ask men to wear condoms, putting them at higher risk for contracting HIV/AIDS.