Sarany Prak lives in Snapmok village in Prek Kaporp commune in Battambang, Cambodia. She is the general manager of Ek Phnom micro credit union
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 8 March 2011
I was married in 1979, but it was not voluntary. Parents on both sides agreed that we should get married. I didn't want to. I was young. I enjoyed going to parties.
When the Khmer Rouge came to power I was 13 or 14. I had to leave school because they said we couldn't go any more. The Khmer Rouge forced me to work. I had to help build a dam and do rice farming. Everyone was treated the same – women weren't treated any differently.
When the Khmer Rouge lost power my parents said I should have a husband and a family and start a new life. At first I didn't like my husband, but I had to adjust so that we could live together and raise children. Now I'm much happier.
I have much more freedom than my mother had. When she was young, women only worked in the house, cooking and taking care of the children, and were dependent on their husbands. But I can do much more, and I can have a job. My husband understands about gender rights, and so do my sons and daughter.
I wouldn't force my daughter to get married, she has her freedom and she's not married yet. She sews, and has her own business – so she can generate her own income. She still lives at home with me.
My daughter has a low level of education. The family fled to the capital, Phnom Penh, around 1992-93 to escape the Khmer Rouge, who were still active in the Battambang area. My children were still small, and because I had my own sewing business I needed my daughter to stay home to help me look after my youngest son. I had no money at that time to pay for more than one child to attend school. My other son didn't know how to look after his brother, so he went to school and my daughter stayed at home. I was sad she couldn't go to school.
I'm content with life now. I have some regrets about the past, having to give up my dreams when I got married. But now, because I'm older, I've calmed down.