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Darkness in Paradise For many Cambodians, immigration to America was a trip to thanh sour, paradise.But for about 150 women in Long Beach, California, heaven's salvation wasn't as bright.The images of the war atrocities plagued their memories and because of severe post-traumatic stress many were diagnosed as functionally and legally blind.Reports of their condition hit the media in the late 1980s, when several women, many of whom were on Medicaid, were going to optometrist to get their vision checked.With the redefining of social roles in the Khmer community, Cambodians face complicated challenges in adjusting to the mainstream culture of America.Faced with a 180 degree shift in gender roles, women have found it even more compromising to save their identities as Khmer women.
Khmer literature, in its didactic tone, has also played a major role in shaping the image and persona of the Khmer woman.
Yet this traditional role, though potent, has also proved enslaving to the Khmer women in the new Cambodian social structure and within the Cambodian communities in America.
As described in Khmer literature, the Khmer woman, must remain virtuous to uphold the image of her family.
Cambodians prefer to work out their problems within the family and with magic doctors or at the temples.
The psychosomatic result of post-traumatic depression that the women experience, are shared by many Cambodians.
Although the traumatic stress may not be expressed in the same way, hundreds of Cambodian suffer from the memories of the atrocities and control their problems through suppression.