Untenu Foundation is involved in Cambodia’s LGBTI community, specially those who are living with HIV. The L in LGBTI is an underexposed group. Lesbian women have the least risk of being infected with HIV in most countries. In Cambodia however, that is different. Yesterday Untenu helped an HIV-positive lesbian woman in the coastal town of Sihanoukville.
HIV in Cambodia
In Cambodia, HIV was eventually widely spread amongst the population. So not only the Most-At-Risk Population (MARP), also a lot of straight people got infected. One of the reasons was the thriving sex industry in Cambodia. That could flourish because of the presence UNCTAD mission during the 1990s (read this article from the Washington Post from August 9, 1998). Poverty still drives women and men into prostitution. This also applies also to lesbian women. In addition, there are still forced marriages in Cambodia, which increases the risk of HIV transmission for lesbian women too.
Lesbian & HIV positive
When Untenu Foundation started offering emergency aid in Cambodia, we where focussed on MSM & TG (men having sex with men and male to female transgenders). Cambodian LGBTI organizations often are either focussed on MSM & TG, or on (lesbian) women. So was our partner organization at that time. In the meantime, we have agreed with our new partner organization that we work for the entire LHBTI community, and thus for lesbian women with HIV. And it is good to see that Bandanh Chaktomok (BC) – our partner organization in Cambodia – takes it seriously. BC is an organization focused on MSM & TG.
Emergency aid for HIV positive lesbian in Sihanoukville
Yesterday we received an aid request from the costal town of Sihanoukville for the first time. And for the second time in our existence, the request was submitted for a lesbian woman. C. is 24 years old who has a relationship with a woman for five years now. She takes care for her two cousins after their parents had died of AIDS. Currently, C. is a fish saleswoman. But years ago she worked in what is called the entertainment business. In Cambodia a euphemism for sex work.
C. was forced by her family to marry a man after finding out that she was lesbian. Presumably she contracted HIV from her ex-partner. It can not be ruled out that in her previous work she was infected with the virus.
In the meanwhile she has been living with HIV for five years already, but lately she has become weaker and therefore she wasn’t able to work enough. Her salary is $ 2.50 a day. That $ 2.50e must pay the rent and the food for her and the children.
And now C. was weakened and could not work anymore. Volunteers from BC found her and requested Untenu to release money for emergency aid. Yesterday we released $ 90, – for food, rent and doctor consultant. Hopefully, she will recover and be able to take care of herself again soon.
Where in Cambodia Untenu offered emergency aid?
Please click on the i‘s in the map for more information per region and find out what Untenu did to help LGBTI’s living with HIV.