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


'Beer girls' wear the uniforms of the international beer brands that they exclusively sell in restaurants and beer gardens in Cambodia.

Sales Quota In 2002, most 'beer girls' had to reach a sales quota of 24 33cl cans/small bottles per night - each selling at US$1.50 on average. Many thus sold US$36 worth of beer daily or US$13,000 annually. In 2004-5, Heineken and Tiger Beer promotion women were put on fixed salaries at approx US$55 per month. One observational study in 2004-5 showed that these women sold three times the previous quota (over $30,000 annually), were not paid any additional money and nightly were drinking more heavily than beer girls promoting other brands.

WagesThey are paid on average US$55 per month - about half the income needed to support their families. 33% of the women support children as single mothers, and 90% support rural families. Evidence-driven "living wages" ($208 monthly in 2009; sufficient to feed a family) would add an additional annual cost of $1500 to each beer seller's salary.  

Indirect sex workers About half become indirect sex workers, exchanging money for sex to supplement their income.

HIV/AIDS prevalence Condom use following beer drinking is lowered; averaged over the past 7 years, 20% of the female beer promotion women in Cambodia are seropositive for HIV/AIDS. It is estimated that there are approximately 200,000 people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs) in Cambodia, with 10,000 in Siem Reap.

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

Medication A 'clone' version of the life-prolonging anti-retroviral therapy (ARVT) costs approx US$360 per year. The beer companies do not provide health care for the "beer girls", and their average annual wage of US$600-US$800 means that ARVT is not an option for the seropositive "beergirls". Consequently, death follows from 3 months to two years after diagnosis. Currently Medicins sans frontieres, ESTHER and other NGOs provide free clone ARVT for only a small number of the nearly 200,000 Cambodians estimated to be living with HIV/AIDS. Death follows three months to two years after diagnosis.

 

'Promotional/advertising costs' The 'beergirls' are described as 'promotional/advertising costs' and listed as part of the marketing budget in annual reports. Consequently, these 'beer girls' are not treated as salaried employees and the beer companies avoid taking responsibility for their healthcare.

Alcohol risks "Beergirls" 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 2006, Trisha Pagnutti took breathalyzer samples of women beer sellers who averaged a BAC of 0.49 (0.5 is considered impaired). 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

THE INFORMATION ON THIS PAGE IS TAKEN FROM A VARIETY OF RESEARCH REPORTS. TO READ THE FULL REPORTS GO TO THIS PAGE

 
 
In Memoriam
The women who have died at work serving beer were real people and should be remembered.
Brands?
Find out if your favorite beer is being sold by 'beergirls' in Cambodia.
Ways to help
Easy ways to contribute to change. Includes press releases.

Archives
Recent and previous developments are detailed in our archives


YOU CAN SUPPORT THE HIV/AIDS PREVENTION WORK IN CAMBODIA! Visit the SiRCHESI website