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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.
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.
"It's a coping mechanism," Van Boemel said to the St. "These women saw so much, they thought, 'I've seen as much as I can.
I've seen bloodshed, I've buried enough babies, I've watched enough children die, and I don't want to see anymore.'" As Chhou Chreng told the Los Angeles Times, "When I feel happy, my eyes are normal.
As described in Khmer literature, the Khmer woman, must remain virtuous to uphold the image of her family.
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.
Women, have a power to upset the entire status structure through their behavior.
It is a power that has no equal in male roles or in Western terms.