Thursday, 19.6.2008: Situation of Women Promoting Beer Does Not Improve

Posted on 20 June 2008. Filed under: Week 565 | Tags: , , , , |

The Mirror, Vol. 12, No. 565

“In May, Sophea and seven other women promoting the sale of beer [to customers in restaurants – commonly called “Beer Girls”] presented a letter to the management of Cambodia Brewery, located in Tuol Kork, Phnom Penh. The eight women represented other 300 women promoting Tiger Beer. These representatives asked for the increase of their salaries from US$70 to US$100 for women who have worked more than ten years. However, so far, there is no response to their request.

“Sophea decided to protest, because she has worked as a beer promoting woman for thirteen years, but the salary she gets cannot support her son’s study. These women explained that staff who has worked less than six years get US$50 per month, and if they have worked beyond six years, they get US$70. She continued, ‘Because the salary is not enough, some even sell sexual services. Some restaurants have rooms for having sex. I have seen many of my colleges who agreed to do this because of the money.’

“Mr. Ian Lubek, a professor from the University of Guelph in Canada who is an advisor to the Siem Reap Citizens for Health, Educational and Social Issues [SiRCHESI International] has conducted studies about the hazard to beer promoting women since 2000. His latest study had been conducted since April 2008 in Siem Reap and Phnom Penh with 400 women. He explained, ‘Our latest numbers show that the situation of beer promoting women has not improved.’

“Mr. Ian Lubek thinks that the claims by Sophea and her colleagues are right. He stated, ‘The beer producing companies which are members of the Beer Selling Industry Cambodia [BSIC] – including Cambodia Brewery, Cambrew/Carlsberg, Heineken, and Guinness – have increased their sale by 50% between 2006 and 2008.’ He said that each night, women promoting beer can sell an average of 24 liters, equal to three boxes of beer. He concluded that if these women would get US$6 commission per box like at some other companies, which are not members of BSIC, they could be able to earn up to US$400 per month, in addition to their salary. Mr. Lubek calculated that women promoting beer need an average salary of US$132 so that they can live under the present circumstance where the price of goods increase like these days. He added that some companies that are members of BSIC had announced a new system to make more money available, based on work performance, but only a small numbers of women say that they get such money.

“Sophea stressed, ‘Our claim is absolutely justified. The quantity of our sales increased, and the price of beer increased too. In the restaurant where I promote beer, previously Tiger Beer was sold for US$1.50 per bottle, but now it is sold for US$2.90. Therefore, the company has the possibility to increase our salaries.’

“According to Mr. Lubek, only 19% of women promoting beer from the companies that are members of BSIC are currently satisfied with their jobs. As for another group of 34%, they said that they had to force themselves to be prostitutes, and 18% of them sell sexual services at their places of work. He continued that to prevent the sale of sexual services, the companies that are members of BSIC created in 2006 a code of ethics [for the companies], but this code has not been implemented well.

“Ms. Bunny, deputy director of the Men’s and Women’s Network for Development in Cambodia that supports 300 beer promoting women in Koh Kong, Sihanoukville, Siem Reap, Banteay Meanchey, Oddar Meanchey, and Phnom Penh, criticized the working conditions related to companies that are members of BSIC, and she proposed that those companies should provide a minimum salary of US$80 to the beer promoting women. She explained, ‘I do not want to work for those companies, because I want to get a salary of over US$50 per month.’ She, like more than 200 women of her association, gets commissions from the restaurants where she works. The commission she gets is US$8 per box. She said, ‘So I earn more than US$100 per month.’

“Ms. Bunny explained, ‘Doing this job, we have to face a situation of getting tired, of gang-rapes [where a group of men rape one woman], and just simple sexual rape.’ She added that the agreements between some non-government organizations and those companies are not efficient. Four among ten members of her organization had been gang-raped, especially those in Phnom Penh. She went on to say, ‘When a woman negotiates with a guest and agrees to go with that that guest, she often faces two to three more men, and the woman can do nothing against it.’ Each of the beer promoting woman has at least once sold sexual services for US$10 or US$20. She admitted, ‘For me, I have sold sex three times, because I needed money.’ Those who seek more income by selling sexual services are mostly women abandoned by their husbands, who have children as their special burden; but other women agreed to have sex with guests because they had been threatened with weapons.

“Mr. Ian Lubek said that so far, an increase of salaries has not been confirmed, although it is a very important condition to stop the sale of sexual services. He mentioned SiRCHESI International’s work as an example. In 2006, this organization freed 27 women promoting beer from their dangerous work places. This organization has organized training courses for hotel workers and arranged their employment in its eight cooperating hotels, where they can earn US$120 per month. ‘That was the time when they could stop to sell sexual services.’” Cambodge Soir, Vol.1, #37, 18-25.6.2008

Newspapers Appearing on the Newsstand:
Thursday, 19 June 2008

Cambodge Soir, Vol.1, #37, 18-25.6.2008

  • Situation of Women Promoting Beer Does Not Improve
  • In Poipet, the Cambodian People’s Party Raises the Construction of Roads as Election Propaganda
  • Mr. Kem Sokha: ‘If the Human Rights Party Wins No Seat, I Will Resign from the Position of Party President Immediately’

Kampuchea Thmey, Vol.7, #1671, 19.6.2008

  • Samdech Prime Minister Granted an Audience to the New Head of UNDP in Cambodia [Mr. Douglas Broderick]
  • Cambodia Celebrated the World Day against the Desertification [on 17 June 2008 with the topic ‘Fight against the deterioration of soil nutrients for the future of agriculture’]

Khmer Machas Srok, Vol.2, #180, 19.6.2008

  • [Sam Rainsy Party parliamentarian] Yim Sovann: Corruption in Cambodia Is Difficult to Prevent, because It Relates to Politicians

Koh Santepheap, Vol.41, #6375, 19.6.2008

  • Japan Decided to Provide More than US$2 Million [actually more than US$2,950,000] for the Process of the Khmer Rouge Tribunal, Responding to a Request by the Government
  • 52 Story Building Construction Began in Grand Style; GS Engineering and Construction Company Makes a Huge Investment in Cambodia

Moneaksekar Khmer, Vol.15, #3490, 19.6.2008

  • Sam Rainsy Parliamentarians Ask the Government to Show the New Map of the Preah Vihear Temple
  • Khmer Citizens Face Eviction from Their Houses while Yuon [Vietnamese] Immigrants Live Peacefully

Rasmei Kampuchea, Vol.16, #4619, 19.6.2008

  • The Head of the Government Decided to Join a UN Preparedness Program [identity of the program not clear – by sending around 500 troups from the Royal Cambodian Armed Forces to join]; He Also Decided to Sell 120,000 Tonnes of Rice and Send Agricultural Experts to Guinea [responding to a request by the Prime Minister of Guinea – 18 June 2008]
  • While the Election Day Is Getting Nearer, Illegal Transportation of Wood in Siem Reap Is Increasing
  • Thai Anti-Government Group Raise Its Country’s Issue to the Preah Vihear Temple [by accusing the Thai Minister of Foreign Affairs Noppadon Pattama of delivering land around the Preah Vihear Temple to Cambodia, in exchange for investment concessions for the former Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra to run gambling casinos in Koh Kong]

Samleng Yuvachun Khmer, Vol.15, #3337, 19.6.2008

  • Phsar Daeum Kor Market Chief [Mr. Hong Heng] Collects Money Everywhere Causing Vendors in the Market to be Angry

Have a look at the last editorial – press freedom was strongly under threat

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