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Welcome to our website monitoring sales practices and health, safety and welfare policies of major globalized beer companies observed doing business in Cambodia (2000 to 2006). (1)
Overall, about 20% of the female beer sellers in Cambodia continue (1998-2006) to be seropositive for HIV/AIDS. If not proactively dealt with by the international breweries, it is estimated that within 2 years, these young women may be dead. In many other countries, we believe that companies would never deliberately stand idly by when a significant proportion of their workforce required urgent assistance(2). We are even more troubled to learn that many of these companies are now aggressively expanding their markets into China, using similar "beer promotion" marketing strategies. In China, they will have a proportionately larger workforce of women, and predictably, as in Cambodia, 20% HIV/AIDS related deaths and quick massive replacements.
In addition female beer sellers in Cambodia consume unsafe quantities of alcohol when working, drinking over 1.2 litres of beer (about 5 standard drinks) nightly 27 days a month ( Schuster et al 2006). This reduces condom use thus increasing risks for HIV/AIDS and STIs. The WHO advises that 5+ units of alcohol daily are harmful leading to other health problems (liver damage, cancers). In addition there are work safety issues such as violence, road accidents, harassment and absenteeism brought about by the consumption of alcohol at work. Read SiRCHESI's newsletter detailing the double threat of alcohol and aids SiRCHESI Newsletter 2007 (758kb) and 2008 (3,400kb)
Why are the beer promotion women in Cambodia not being cared for?
Research from social scientists www.angkorwatngo.com; select research reports, university theses McCourt (2002) , and from annual government HIV/AIDS Sentinel Surveys (HSS) , medical practitioners or journalists' investigations press reports, reports of NGOs (KHANA, 2001), "Entertainment workers" and interviews with local Cambodian citizens, beer distributors and sellers all indicate that some companies do not demonstrate in Cambodia (and other countries in South-East Asia) the high standards of "fair-play", "fair-trade", workplace security, welfare, health and safety, and/or ethical conduct that they do in the countries of their corporate headquarters and/or as described on their websites as being their international policies.
Based upon research in Siem Reap since 2000 (3), we therefore ask all the major beer and spirit brands promoted by these women to become immediately involved in their own sales force's well-being and survival, and to take the steps in line with our Fair trade Standard (4).
Evidence driven "living Wages" ($208 monthly in 2009) - sufficient to feed family - would add an additional annual cost of $1500 to each beer seller's salary. This would remove the necessity of a second job, which for illiterate women, often means accepting occasional propositions to exchange money for sex, sometimes after drinking with a client to reach a sales quota.
Free HAART (high active antiretroviral therapy) for beer sellers and infected families (estimated cost $110-330 per person per year).
Recognition by International Brewers and local distributors that women beer sellers are "workers" under Cambodian Labour Code and are elligible for all international company benefits and local labour rights.
Behaviour-changing health education about alcohol, AIDS, reproductive health, workplace behaviours prior to start of work, and continuous updates.
An end to forced workplace alcohol consumption.
How can we collectively encourage beer companies to do this? Consumers of these brands, stockholders and institutional investors in these companies (including pension plan and other portfolio managers), may all wish to become acquainted about the details of the Cambodian commercial operations contributing to their profits, dividends, etc. What is not mentioned in company Annual Reports is the devastation occurring among the Cambodian workforce, particularly the "beer promotion women" or "beer girls" (5). Also visit www.beergirls.org which we document for Siem Reap.
This website also provides means for you to contact your preferred beer brand , to raise questions about their treatment of "beer promotion women", seek additional facts to the ones we are able to present here, and praise or question their progress towards Cambodian "fair-trade" or "ethical" sales practices.
Which beer companies will actually be the first to step up and take proactive steps to protect the health, welfare and ultimately, the lives, of their "beer girls"? (6)
We will be very happy to list all such pioneers on this website!