It’s 9pm and the night is just beginning at a popular entertainment establishment in Phnom Penh. Diners enjoy a meal at a restaurant on the ground floor, the rooms on the middle level reverberate with popular songs, and the top floor is a hotel.
In a corner next to several karaoke rooms, a serious conversation is taking place amid the laughter, strobe lights, brightly dressed women and loud male customers. Five entertainment workers are sitting on a sofa talking about why they don’t get tested for HIV.
“I don’t know where to go,” says one woman. Agreeing, a co-worker adds: “I dare not go. I am too afraid.”
Their interviewer is Rath Chan Molika. The 22-year-old recently quit her job as an entertainment worker and is now an outreach worker and lay counsellor with Smartgirl, a sexual health and empowerment programme for entertainment workers that provides community-based HIV testing.
Population Services Khmer is PSI’s network member in Cambodia.