Saturday, January 11, 2014

Fashion Backward: Cambodian Government Silences Garment Workers

About 90 percent of garment workers in the country are young women, mostly in their teens and twenties

MIchelle Tolson 
PHNOM PENH - “Cambodian garment workers have two handcuffs and one weapon [against them]. One handcuff is a short-term contract [10 hours a day, six days a week]. Even if they get sick, if they get pregnant they feel they have to get an abortion so they don’t lose their jobs.
(Credit: Courtesy LICADHO)

(Thomas Cristofoletti/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images)
“The second handcuff is the low wage,” Tola Moeun, head of the Community Legal Education Centre (CLEC), which advocates for workers rights, told IPS from the organisation’s headquarters on the outskirts of Phnom Penh. “The weapon used against them is violence, both mental and physical.”

About 90 percent of garment workers are young women, mostly in their teens and twenties.

His words, which came just days before mass protests broke out in the Cambodian capital, proved prophetic as garment workers took to the streets Dec. 24 until their demonstrations were brutally quashed by Prime Minister Hun Sen’s private military the first weekend in January, resulting in five fatalities and over 30 serious injuries.

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