INTRODUCTION: In Kampuchea, women have invariably played the sort of secondary role traditional in Asian societies.
PHNOM PENH, KAMPUCHEA (VISNEWS - WALTER BURGESS)
SV INTERIOR Bride and Bridegroom entering main living room for wedding ceremony with gongs sounding
SV Old man beating gong
SV Group dancing around Bride and Groom
SV Bride and Groom laying down during ceremony as parents look on
SV Women planting rice in Paddy fields. (2 SHOTS)
SV INTERIOR Women feeding young chicks. (2 SHOTS)
GV Young people cleaning streets of Phnom Penh
SV Women cleaning street
GV Women carrying rubbish in basket and dumping it. (2 SHOTS)
SV INTERIOR Women unloading metal rods in factory. (2 SHOTS)
SV Women working on punch die machine making shovel
SV Woman working on pressing machine
SV Women placing sheets of metal into cutting machine
SV Women grinding rough edge from shovels
SV INTERIOR Women working in textile factory threading machines. (3 SHOTS)
SV Printed material coming off rollers
SV Women working weaving machines. (2 SHOTS)
SV ZOOM TO Pregnant woman laying on hospital bed
SVs Women with newly born babies. (3 SHOTS)
CU Nutrition and hygiene poster in ward
SV Vietnamese giving lecture to nurses and trainee doctors. (2 SHOTS)
SV Nurse attending sick child in intensive care unit
SV French doctor and nurses attending sick child
CU ZOOM OUT Mother and child standing with group of mothers and children outside orphanage entrance
Background: INTRODUCTION: In Kampuchea, women have invariably played the sort of secondary role traditional in Asian societies. But a decade of civil and famine has caused an unprecedented upheaval in traditional roles. It is the women who now form an estimated 75 per cent of the adult population and it is their labour which is increasingly coming to underpin the whole economy.
SYNOPSIS: The Buddhist marriage ceremony is as much revered as ever in Kampuchea. The difference today is that the ceremonies are rare. There are three women to every one man. Many men are away fighting for the army.
When they do occur, weddings are formal but less ostentatious than in the past. Few are prosperous in modern-day Kampuchea. After the ceremony, the couple must strive to build a decent life in a country ravaged by the effects of war and persecution. Kampuchea is still reliant on massive food aid from overseas, industry is only just beginning to rebuild itself, and there is a critical shortage of labour.
This lack of manpower is changing the role of women in Kampuchea. They have always been found in the Paddy Fields combining their housework with planting rice, the staple crop. But increasingly they are required to do the heavier jobs in industry - in the factories, using heavy equipment, and in the fields operating the farm machinery which is still in desperately short supply.
But in many cases the women have not been properly prepared for carrying out the skilled jobs. The education system still lags behind the employment needs of the nation. The tradition of women leaving school early and being trained only for domestic work has meant that many important skilled jobs have been left unfilled.
The women have not always welcomed the new jobs they are asked to do. But industrial equipment coming from the West means there is work in the factories to be done - like making these shovels in a Phnom Penh factory.
But while the women are performing key jobs in the economy, male dominance is still retained at the highest levels. Women are still rare in politics, and of the 35 members of the Ruling Committee for National Salvation only six are women, and only one, the Vice-Minister of Health, has ministerial status. The same pattern is reflected in higher education. Despite the large fall in the male population, girls still make-up a small minority of secondary school pupils. In the textile factories, women are operating the machines handled by men in the past, and in this particular factory 72 per cent of the work force are women. The factories are government owned, and the authorities insist on employees working long hours to meet the nation's needs.
Paradoxically, despite the shortfall in the male population, there is a boom in births in the country. The birth rate was 4.8 per hundred of the population last year - one of the highest in the world. Experts attribute the boom to the relative stability in the country now. Children can live in comparative safety compared with the almost daily purges at the height of the Pol Pot regime in the mid- 1970s. And the incentive for having large families when there is a lot of work to do is greater. Most of the babies born are illegitimate, but for the government this is no immediate cause of the concern - it means more manpower for the future.
But the babies make life still harder for Kampuchea's women. Long hours in the factories leave them little time for attending to their young. Fortunately, under the Khmer (Kampuchean) system, children are absorbed into the extended family, and are looked after by the older people.
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