Portraits of Cambodian Garment Workers

The garment industry is the largest sector of the Cambodian economy, representing Cambodia’s 95% of the country's exports.  It employs over 500,000 people, the majority of whom are women who have travelled to the city to find work in the industry.

Working six days a week, 8 hours a day, the minimum wage is just US$100, barely enough to meet their basic living expenses.  For many the lack of a living wage means risking malnourishment, which in recent years combined with poor working conditions has caused numerous incidents of mass faintings and collapses in the factories over recent years.

Steffi Eckelmann a German photographer took a series of portraits of garment workers and interviewed them about their lives and dreams.  You can view a selection below and read more about Steffi's work here.

Daily reality

The garment workers interviewed and photographed by Steffi mostly live in rented rooms in a Phnom Penh suburb near the garment factories producing clothes for international brands.

Three to six women share just one room, not bigger than 8 square metres, often even without a window or any fresh air.  No furniture, simple plastic sheets on the floor to sleep on, a toilet and portable gas stove with some pots for cooking. The women share the cost of the room, of water and electricity which amounts to about US$ 30-40 per person per month.

All the images are protected by copyright. Reproducing or distributing an image or part of an image in any form or manner is illegal.  They may not be published without prior permission from Steffi Eckelmann.  © Copyright 2013 Steffi Eckelmann