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Gov’t appeals to youth before Valentine’s Day

In its annual appeal for Cambodian youth to avoid salacious Valentine’s Day festivities, the Ministry of Culture yesterday asked teens to mind their modesty, and chastity, this weekend.

To avoid any sexual connotations of the romance-fuelled day, the ministry suggested holiday observers consider more filial or generous definitions of love, such as towards orphans, people with disabilities and those generally less fortunate.

“It does not mean only sexual love between a girl and a boy, especially for youth, which could destroy their future and family,” the ministry’s statement released on Wednesday said.

The statement also appealed to guesthouses to bar teens under 18 years old from renting rooms without parental permission.

Despite the controversy, the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Cambodia will continue its annual offering of 100,000 condoms distributed on the eve of the event. A hundred volunteers will also be deployed to teach safe sex practices.

“AHF wants to prevent HIV/AIDS and spread more know-ledge,” said Chhoem Sarath, director of the foundation.

Exemplifying the ministry’s vision of the Feast of Saint Valentine, Ton Sovan, 17, said she plans to stay home and celebrate a love of her parents.

“It is not a kind of sexual love between couples, but all love for parents, relatives and friends. So please, other youth, don’t confuse that day,” she said.

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