Let’s Talk About Sex, a song by American hip hop trio Salt-N-Pepa, became number one in 1991, and youths in the US, Australia, Germany and Switzerland began chanting the lyrics to this popular hit song.
The song talked about the negative and positive side of sex, promoting safe sex, and the censorship that sex had in the media during the 1990s. Later, a new version of the song was created and titled Let’s Talk About Aids, addressing an important message about the spread of HIV/AIDS.
Sex education is education about the human anatomy, sexual reproduction, sexual intercourse and human sexual behaviour. Countries with more conservative attitudes towards sex education have a higher incidence of teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STD).
Abstinence is the key to the preventions of pregnancy and STDs.
But in reality, young people are having sex.
The topic of sex in many countries is considered taboo, and addressing sex education as a curriculum in schools remains a controversial topic in several countries.
Cambodia’s tradition and custom makes the topic of sex very uncomfortable for women to talk about. With the increase of Cambodian youths having sex before marriage, and not using protection, the topics of safe sex and treatment options need to be addressed.
Abortion is legal in Cambodia, and access to an abortion is easier than access to contraception.
In Cambodia, only basic information about sex is taught in schools. The biology books contain information about sperm, ovaries and the uterus, but not about intercourse or fertilisation.
Most of the books are in English, and there are limited resources about sex education in the Khmer language, making it a challenge for teachers to address this to their students.
Cambodian parents do not want to talk about sex to their children, as this is considered a taboo topic. Young people learn about sex through pornography, which is very misleading.
According to a report by World Vision, in 2006 more than 46 per cent of boys and 30 per cent of girls indicated they had been exposed to pornography.
Viewing pornography has resulted in an increase in levels of physical and verbal sexual harassment of girls, and nearly 40 per cent of Cambodian clients who buy sex blame Western pornography for gang rape.
Watching pornography also causes teens to have sex at an early age, without using protection.
The EC/UNFPA Reproductive Health Initiative for Youth in Asia (RHIYA) works to support the participatory and innovative approaches to adolescent sexual and reproductive health.
Projects include outreach van activities, interactive radio shows, youth-friendly reproductive health centres, peer education networks and national campaigns to provide important reproductive health information and services for young Cambodians aged 10-24 years old.
RHIYA targets vulnerable youths such as migrant workers, street children, sex workers and young people living in slums and in poor rural communities.
We need to educate the young generation and help them make informed decisions about their sexual lives. Sex education in Cambodia is important, and the first step is acknowledging that it’s OK to talk about sex.
The Social Agenda with Soma Norodom
The views expressed above are solely the author’s and do not reflect any positions taken by The Phnom Penh Post.