Cambodian student Angelus, 19, is not shy to talk about her sexuality. On the contrary, because people in her environment avoided talking about sex and puberty when she was young, she had one of the most terrifying experiences of her life. She shared this experience with LIFT and explained why she thinks talking about sex is not only OK but necessary. In her words:
Despite our advanced technology, it never ceases to amaze me how sex is still a taboo topic in many places around the world, especially in Cambodia.
Growing up I was told that I shouldn’t discuss anything related to sex at all, not even puberty (at least not in public). One of the main reasons for that is because I am a girl. As a young kid, I never questioned that notion, but as I grew older, I began to wonder: What is so bad about sex that we shouldn’t talk about it?
Actually, if we really take a moment to think about it, sex is the most natural thing for any living being. Without sex, we wouldn’t be here. Somehow, though, society has created this stigma that comes along with sex by labelling it “dirty” and “taboo”.
While I do agree that yes, sex is a very intimate act, it still doesn’t mean that we should sweep the topic under the rug in hopes that kids and teenagers will automatically know the right path to choose regarding sexual issues.
What a lot of people don’t realise is that if people are not open to talk about sex education, youngsters will just go stumbling around blindly without having any foresight of the risks and consequences involved in sex.
I remember how difficult it was for me to learn about my own body or get the basic information on sex education. I would go on the internet or secretly read the “intimate” part of magazines just to get some understanding on the topic.
There was this one time when I had begun to have my period, and I had an unusual discharge. I was terrified to death, and I was too scared to go to my mom. I was programmed into thinking that it was something embarrassing, which I should not discuss.
In the end, I still had to go to her, because I thought I was dying. I guess if I had been taught that talking about sexual issues is OK it would’ve saved a lot of sleepless nights worrying about sexual health.
That particular example was a mild example of what can be the consequences if young people are not educated about their sexual health. Some of the more serious consequences are unwanted pregnancy, sexual violence and STDs.
As a matter of fact, according to womenshealth.gov, one in two pregnancies in the US are unplanned. Without knowledge of contraception or proper condom use, women face a high chance of either getting pregnant or contracting STDs. Domestic violence and violence against women occur due to lack of respect and knowledge on sexual issues.
At the end of the day, I learned to become more open about my sexuality. If I have some questions about my body or my sexual health, I won’t be afraid to voice them because how else will I get better? I am proud of my sexuality, and there’s no reason that I shouldn’t share what I know and my experiences with other people. After all, sex is a natural thing that we should not be ashamed of.