Killer Beers?

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Facts taken from social scientists, research reports, university theses, annual government surveys, medical practitioners and press reports.

In Memoriam
The women who have died at work serving beer were real people and should be remembered.

Find out if your favorite beer is being sold by 'beergirls' in Cambodia.

Ways to help
Easy ways to contribute to change

Recent and previous developments are detailed in our archives

It is estimated that within 2 years many one in five young women may be dead if not proactively dealt with by the international breweries whose beer they sell.


Aug 08 - Heineken, Olympics and beer sellers in Cambodia- Dutch/Flemish blogs. You can read the blogs and contribute to the discussions at and

1 July 08 - Three articles by SØREN KRAGBALLE appear in the Danish press
i) NGO: Bryggerier betaler sulteløn til deres ølpiger (pdf 12kb); ii)Carlsbergs ølpiger bliver fortsat groft chikaneret (pdf 15kb); iii) Carlsbergchef: Ikke godt nok (pdf 14kb)

April 08 - International brewers still behaving badly in Cambodia.
Latest research findings suggest Heineken and other brands, despite statements to media and shareholders, have not made significant progress in 2007 to reduce high risks to their women beer-sellers in Cambodia.  Demands for
paying a "living wage", provide free HAART for HIV+ beersellers, improve health education before employment, provide contracts transparently, and end all workplace drinking (for starters) remain unchanged.
Please read the recent pressrelease (RTF- 28k)

Oct 07 The NGO Global Witness has recently published their investigative report 'Cambodia's Family Trees: Illegal Logging and the Stripping of Public Assets' on illegal trade in Cambodia, focusing primarily on illegal logging but with additional information concerning the alcohol beverage industry (pp. 82-86). Download report in pdf (5mb) at:"

Aug 07 SiRCHESI researchers observe for the first time Royal Stout Ginseng, Bayon and Guinness being sold by female beer sellers in Siem Reap. Royal Stout Ginseng and Bayon* are owned by Carlsberg. *Bayon is brewed by Cambrew which is half owned by Carlsberg.

16 June 2007 Cass, a Korean beer owned by INBEV and sold by women in Cambodia "recently released a new product [in Korea] with twice the alcohol of average brews after it realised sales of its other products were falling because they took too long to get people drunk" an article in The Independent reports. In Korea the culture of business binge drinking "forces" women to drink "corrosive combinations of beer and rice wine to climb the career ladder". Read the full article online or in in rtf 16kb

April 2007 SirCHESI suggests to VBDO Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development) six points for shareholders to raise at the Annual Heineken meeting on 19th April 2007. In response to a report (read online in English or in Dutch) produced by SOMO (Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) which is a Dutch non-profit research and advisory bureau), VBDO will raise issues concerning Heineken’s practices and policies at the annual Heineken shareholders meeting. The report contains a section on Cambodian labour practices and is informed by research including reports from SirCHESI and CARE . See page 10 for a brief report from the shareholders meeting; and page 23 for the original text from the beer promotion case.

SiRCHESI has partnered with 3 pioneering Siem Reap hotels in a Hotel Apprenticeship Program which runs from 2006-2008. This removes women from risky beer-selling jobs, sends them every morning to SiRCHESI’s school to learn English, Khmer reading, health education, social and life skills. For 8 months, they also complete 9-hour mentored shifts in the Lin Ratanak Angkor Hotel Sokha Angkor Hotel and Resort and Angkor Howard Hotel Apprentices then receive 16-month permanent contracts, with “fair wages” paid throughout. Read the SirCHESI 2006 newsletter (pdf 8,700kb), 2007 newsletter (pdf 758kb).

March 2007 Citing Van Merode (2006) a brief prepared for Heineken shareholders states "The workplace risks from nightly alcohol overuse, violence, forced sex, and HIV/AIDS for sellers of Heineken (and part-owned brands Tiger, ABC, and Anchor) are alarming". The detailed brief goes on to outline the two major causes of health and safety risks not addressed by the BSIC code of conduct for beer sellers. Read shareholders brief (rtf 88kb)

25 Oct 2006 Beer Selling Industry Cambodia (BSIC) publish a Code of Conduct for Beer Promoters (BPs) setting industry standards for health, safety and working conditions Read (pdf 33kb)

Oct 2006 Why are Cambodian ”beer girls” still at risk? Scientists and practitioners criticise Heineken’s anti-AIDS policy: Suggest International brewers must urgently do more for women’s health and security in Cambodia' - press release is sent to media in N.America, Cambodia and the UK read press release (rtf 37kb) and background info (rtf 57kb) or read press release in Dutch (rtf 7.76kb)

Sept 2006 An article and responding letter appear in the Lancet. A letter is sent to CEOs and a meeting follows. Details are set out below.

On 5th Aug an article by van der Borght et al is published in The Lancet praising Heineken for providing for free highly active anti-retroviral therapy (HAART) to its (predominately male) workers in Africa. This article and editorial suggest Heineken's policy might stand as a good corporate model for other responsible businesses to follow. These articles are available to download via ScienceDirect - van der Borght 5/08/06 and The Lancet editorial titled 'The business of HIV/AIDS'.

On 13th Sept a letter is sent to CEOs of three major European brewers (INBEV, Heineken and Carlsberg) inviting them to meet to discuss proactive steps... Read letter (rtf 13kb). A presentation (4,716 kb) was made to Corporate Relations and other executives.

On 25th Sept a response to the ver der Borght article and editorial (The Lancet 5th Aug 06) is published in The Lancet. While praising Heineken's policy of providing free HAART for workers in Africa van Merode et al's response calls for this policy to be expanded to female beer promoters in Cambodia. Read van Merode response via The Lancet online

Nov 2005 SIRCHESi (Siem Reap Citizen's for Health, Educational and Social Issues) delegates help present satelite session on Aids, alcohol, violence and trafficking risks at 3rd Asia Pacific Conference on reproductive and Sexual health (Kuala Lumpar Nov 17th - 21st)chaired by Mu Sochua (former minister of women's affairs, Cambodia). On Nov 22nd a press conference was held in Phnom Penh, (chaired by Mu Sochua); SIRCHESi speakers described risks to women in Siem Reap from Aids, alcohol and violence. A press release was issued calling for public demonstration by beer promoters and other women in Siem Reap on Nov 27th 2005. This was the first time that beer promoters joined politicians,, NGO workers union organisers and other supporters to publicly march to reduce health and safety risks in their workplace.

Nov2005 SiRCHESI (Siem Reap Citizen's for Health, Educational and Social Issues) Newsletter. Find out about SiRCHESI, how you can immediately help Cambodian health projects, why the health crisis is som deadly in Siem Reap, the double threat of alcohol and Aids, SirCHESI's recent activities and the programs they have planned for 2005-2006. Download an A4 copy of the newsletter in pdf.

Sept 2005 A presentation was made in Amsterdam at Heineken's international headquarters. Heineken executives were asked to taken an even more vanguard role in the improvement of the lives of the women selling alcohol in Cambodia, beyond their current efforts with a "Selling Beer Safely" educational program. A scheduled presentation to INBEV (Interbrew) executives in Belgium was cancelled by the company.

Aug 2005 SiRCHESI launched, with help from CARE, an alcohol awareness workshop for 27 beer promoters. These women who sell international beer and other alcoholic products consume unsafe quantities of alcohol (1.2 litres of beer nightly).

Feb 2005 Hague Times/Amsterdam Times: Heineken announces it has a doctor (GP) now available for its beer promotion women, presumably in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. However, because Heineken and other breweries insist that these women are not "workers" or "employees" (even if they receive a $55 monthly salary), so far there is no announcement that this doctor will supervise anti-retroviral therapy for the 20% of the female sales-force now HIV+. Yet, Heineken's HIV/AIDS policy promises to do this worldwide. Does the new CEO know about this? contact Heineken

Jan 2005 Research is being carried out on the added impact of alcohol in the workplace. It is estimated that some beer girls drink on average 1.2 ltrs of beer per night, 28 days a month.

Sept2004 We have learned that breweries are expanding their markets into China. China may have a proportionately larger workforce of women and as in Cambodia, 20% HIV/AIDS related deaths and quick massive replacements once the women have died.

Aug 2004 A representative from Heineken (which owns approx 42% of Tiger's parent company Asia Pacific Breweries) at a conference on HV/AIDS in Siem Reap, reported that since Dec., 2003, Tiger beer is providing free anti-retroviral therapy for male brewery workers at its Cambodian subsidiary.

March 2004 Heineken and Asia Pacific Breweries announced that a workplace health promotion Safe Beer Selling (SBS) Program was being initiated in Cambodia with participation of CARE. By April 2005, CARE had removed the program description from their website. Heineken and Tiger have not changed the basic renumeration scheme; "salaried" women do worse off now than they would under the former "commission" scheme. As for provision of anti-retroviral therapy for women, Heineken, Tiger and all other breweries are still recalcitrant (Lubek, 2004)