Skip to main content
Open Access Publications from the University of California


UCLA Previously Published Works bannerUCLA

“We Cannot Avoid Drinking”: Alcohol Use among Female Entertainment Workers in Cambodia

Published Web Location
No data is associated with this publication.

Background: Female entertainment workers (FEWs) in Cambodia work in predominantly alcohol-based venues and therefore may face occupational risks. Studies have suggested that FEWs are pressured to consume alcohol while at the workplace, which may have adverse health outcomes. This study aims to explore the experiences of alcohol use among FEWs in Cambodia. Methods: Twenty-seven focus group discussions (FGDs) with FEWs were conducted across five sites in four provinces in Cambodia. FGD participants were FEWs who worked at entertainment venues, including karaoke TV bars, beer gardens, and massage parlors, as well as women who worked as on-call or street-based sex workers, and women across entertainment venues who were parenting. Results: The authors modified a conceptual model to create a framework based on the major themes identified within the FGDs on autonomy in alcohol use among FEWs. The framework and thematic components highlight the continuum of autonomy from pressured or coerced alcohol use to, economically or socially rational alcohol use to voluntary alcohol use. Factors that impacted alcohol use across the spectrum include experiencing an economic shock, needing to maintain a livelihood, experiencing psychological distress, having the desire to thrive in employment environment and drinking socially for personal enjoyment. Conclusion/Importance: Much of the motivation behind alcohol use is related to the need for economic security. For women who do not have other employment or income-generating options, individual behavior change programing is unlikely to be effective. Structural changes are needed to improve the health and safety of FEWs in Cambodia.

Many UC-authored scholarly publications are freely available on this site because of the UC's open access policies. Let us know how this access is important for you.

Item not freely available? Link broken?
Report a problem accessing this item