GlobeMed at Rutgers University is partnered with Cooperation for Social Services and Development in Phnom Penh, Cambodia, a grassroots organization that works to promote sexual health among marginalized and vulnerable communities; these communities include women entertainment workers and men who have sex with men. CSSD conducts outreach programs to promote healthy sex practices and works to decrease the stigma surrounding HIV/AIDS as well as the discrimination these communities face.
In Cambodia, many women are forced into being entertainment workers (voluntary sex workers), having come from extremely poor communities. Most of these women leave their homes and families to work in Phnom Penh as entertainment workers to supplement their family income. These women often feel imprisoned, preventing them from controlling the environment around them. Due to their marginalized status in their communities, these women are often denied health care and their children denied education.
Through discussion groups, the entertainment workers will have the opportunity to learn healthy sex practices to stay physically healthy and will be connected to healthcare services. The project will serve as a psychological support system for the young women and a space for them to draw strength from one another and their community. This support system is crucial for these young women who sacrifice so much to provide for their families, while struggling with emotional burdens on their own.
This health promotion agenda is designed to be both culturally sensitive and scientifically sound. Overall, the outreach program will empower these women to live safer and healthier lives. Investment in these women not only improves their health and lives, but also the lives of their children.