Understanding Her Rights To Ensure Her Safety
Sinat preparing herself to work. During free time, she teaches her son on his homework and prepare him a lesson for the next day at school. Photo: Oxfam
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Drink excessively or risk alcohol-fuelled tempers flaring and losing work or worse? This is what beer promoter Ms Pov Sinath faces every day; with two children to care for, there’s only one option.
“A customer once forced me to drink a whole bottle of beer. Though he didn't threaten me directly, I could see that he had a gun. I had no choice, so I forced myself to drink the whole bottle,” Sinath said.
“Some customers complain that I am too old for this job but I said to them if I am not allowed to do this job, what else can I do?". Sinath is grateful to work for CAMBREW, the head company of Angkor Beer, as it means she doesn’t work in a garment factory. However, the environment of alcohol and drug abuse that surrounds her work is a concern to her family, and for very little pay. “My salary is only enough for the rent and one bag of rice,” she said. Their family depends on her husband’s income, a moto-taxi driver, and the profits from rice-wine sold by her family in her home province, Svay Rieng. Sinath moved to Phnom Penh for work in 1996. Thus, being isolated, she has lost the support network that comes with living with six siblings.
Sinath is a member of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF) and she explained how the organisation has helped her understand her rights and how to protect them. The members gather regularly to discuss many issues. The organisation also supports weekly Khmer lessons for the workers and their children to improve their verbal and written language skills and boost their confidence. “It would be great if people could place a higher value on me and my job,” she said. Sinath is hopeful that through the work of CFSWF, culture around beer promoters and the value they are given in society will improve.