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‘I am Not a Sex Worker’ – Women On Safety and Health

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Women raise their hands at the National Conference on Occupational Safety and Health for Entertainment workers yesterday. KT/Chor Sokunthea

I am a massage worker, I am not a sex worker,” Seth Sreylorn, 33, an employee at Alaska massage center in Siem Reap province, said to more than 100 entertainment workers who participated yesterday in the National Conference on Occupational Safety and Health for Entertainment workers.
 
The conference was held to mark World Day for Safety and Health at Work.
 
Ms. Sreylorn does not dare to tell her neighbors about her real work; she says she works preparing rooms and that she is a massage worker.
 
“When I told them about my real job, they did not think about it, besides raising questions to me, saying that a massage worker is a sex worker. I asked them why they looked down on me like this. Massage work is not sexual work and it is not bad work,” Ms. Sreylorn said.
 
Ms. Sreylorn said she does not care what others think of her work. She respects her job and does it to support her family. Her reason for speaking out is that she wants to reach those who discriminate against entertainment workers in order to change their perceptions.
 
Srey Khouch, 20, a karaoke girl in Phnom Penh, said yesterday that some clients do not respect her or her value her as a woman. They force her to drink and sometimes sexually abuse her.
 
“When they drink, they often try to touch my body or kiss me, but this is my work and I often face it,” she said.
 
Ms. Khouch does not want to work in a karaoke bar forever – her dream is to own a hair salon.
 
Sar Mora, president of the Cambodian Food and Service Workers’ Federation (CFSWF), said yesterday that the issue of health and safety in the workplace for entertainment workers is a majorly important issue, especially for workers in night clubs, restaurants, karaoke bars and those who promote beer, among other occupations.
 
“They still face a lot of issues such as being forced to drink alcohol, sexual abuse and also violence in their workplace. We see they work in bad environments that seriously affect their health and safety,” Mr. Mora said.
 
“We all have to remember that we sell only our energy for work, but do not sell our health and our lives.”

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