First ‘Beer Girls’ Summit on Tap Next Week

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.

 

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