Let's go for a walk. Sexual Decision-making among Clients of Female Entertainment Service Workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia


HIV-prevention efforts in Cambodia have principally focused on the role of female entertainment workers in transmitting the virus to the general population. This has meant that male clients of entertainment workers have often been overlooked and underserved by HIV-prevention activities and messaging. Data collected from men who frequent entertainment venues, such as beer halls or karaoke bars, reveal that more than half report paying for sex in the last 12 months and around 40% report having three or more commercial partners in that timeframe. Relatively little is known about the decision-making processes of men who purchase commercial sex in Cambodia.

The goals of this study were fourfold:
(1) to explore the sexual decision-making processes of men who regularly patronize high-risk entertainment venues;
(2) to identify key behavior patterns and social inducements that lead high-risk men to frequently have sex with entertainment workers;
(3) to locate decisive junctures in the course of men's socializing when a decision to not seek the services of an entertainment worker could be made; and
(4) to produce a series of personalized archetypes that can be used by programmers to frame behavior change messaging for entertainment establishment based HIV-prevention interventions.

Forty-eight men (age 21-35) who said they had had sex with an entertainment worker within the preceding six months were selected for interview by PSI researchers. Each was scheduled to complete two interviews: a narrative interview covering a typical evening of socializing, and an interview that covered influencers, the dynamics of opting in or out of sex, condom habits, and positive deviants. Twelve men were interviewed one-on-one and 36 participated in small group discussions. Sixteen brothel-based and non-brothel-based entertainment workers, chosen by United Health Network program staff, were also interviewed. Entertainment workers were included in the hope that they could provide insight into men's sex-seeking decision-making processes. Data were collected from February-April 2007.

After the introduction and objectives of the study, and the methods used, Khmer masculinities and group dynamics and sexual decision-making are described and discussed. This is followed by the conclusions of the study and the presentation of 3 archetypes and 3 scenarios.


Population Services International, Washington DC, USA/Family Health International (FHI) , 62 pp.

Let’s go for a walk. Sexual Decision-making among Clients of Female Entertainment Service Workers in Phnom Penh, Cambodia

Published 1 January 2007