- June 10, 2019 2:58 AM
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- December 7, 2020 10:15 AM
PHNOM PENH — Alcohol consumption and advertisement must decrease to help reduce the harm alcohol caused among women, health experts said during a workshop on Dec. 23. Moreover, awareness of the harm caused must be spread among all stakeholders and especially consumers, they said.
Held in Phnom Penh by the Health Action Coordinating Committee (HACC)—a network of local and international NGOs working on health issues—the workshop was meant to bring people’s attention to the issue, to discuss national and international legal restrictions on alcohol, and to support effective measures to reduce harm on women related to alcohol consumption.
Representatives from the Ministry of Women’s Affairs, the Cambodia Movement for Health and national and international institutions agreed that alcohol consumption and advertisements are harmful and violate women’s rights “to live without violence.”
Cases of violence within households happened increasingly between husbands and wives or among partners as alcohol consumption rises, according to the HACC press release about the workshop and in which is cited a report of the Ministry of Women’s Affairs.
Some women became disabled or widowed at a young age and others lost children or lovers because of traffic accidents caused by drunk drivers, the press release said. Moreover, many women are victims of violence, psychological and sexual harassment, and economic pressure due to alcohol, the release read.
Song Dearak, project officer for the Cambodia Movement for Health (CMH), said that, among the Cambodians 15-to-19 years old, around 19.2 percent are alcohol consumers, and around 42 percent of them are heavy alcohol drinkers.
The young women drinkers account for 10.6 percent of the women population, he said, citing a study conducted by the International Health Policy Program in 2021.
The alcohol marketing nowadays comes through all kinds of channels, and especially through social media, concerts, prizes, giveaways, and especially women celebrities, Dearak said.
In 2013, around 4.2 percent of female students 13 to 17 years old consumed alcohol, said Dr. Yel Daravuth, a representative of the World Health Organization (WHO), citing the Global School Based Student Health Survey.
In 2016, 20.2 percent of women aged 25 to 64 consumed alcohol according to a WHO STEPS survey, he said.
According to Dr. Daravuth, the number of women going to emergency rooms, being hospitalized, or dying from health issues related to alcohol consumption has increased over the past 20 years compared to men.
“The diseases caused by alcohol include brain damage, liver damage, heart disease, breast cancer, and fetal alcohol spectrum disorders,” he said. “Women are more vulnerable to these diseases than men are.
“There are more risks…such as having osteoporosis, breaking one’s pelvis easily, having menopause before the [usual] age, infertility and miscarriage, blood pressure, and heart disease,” Dr. Daravuth said.
Participants at the workshop concluded discussions with seven recommendations or measures to reduce alcohol consumption for the public institutions to consider in order to reduce harm to women caused by alcohol.
Those included spreading information on harm caused by alcohol consumption among the population through various means, adopting a law on alcohol management with the participation of civil society groups to help its implementation, and restricting and regulating alcohol advertisement, especially in the case of advertisement targeting women and encouraging them to start drinking or drink more.
Participants at the workshop also recommended setting the age at which alcohol can be sold to a person and issuing regulation to prevent underage children or teenagers from having access to alcohol, and not to make alcohol accessible near places, and especially schools, where girls or young women gather.
Increasing taxes on alcohol business could be another way to decrease consumption as this would increase prices, participants also suggested. They also appeal to the ministries involved to look into measures to contribute to protecting women from the consequences of alcohol due to consumption in society as well as among women.