According to a randomly selected survey, nine out of 10 Cambodian men place important value on their future wife being a virgin.
Sok Chea, 22 years old, a senior student at Royal University of Law and Economics, says that even though he is modern man, he believes that he needs to be a clean person without any sex experience; and, he believes that other men would think as he does.
“I don’t have much care whether my girlfriend is virgin, but I am seriously concerned about my future wife, for I just want a modest lady with a good background,” Sok Chea said.
Admitting that he is not a virgin, Sok Cheasays: “In Khmer culture, men and women are different: women can be compared to a pile of swabs: if it drops to the mud, it will not be able to be cleaned.
"However, men can be compared to gold: even it drops to the mud, it could still clean up easily.”
Why do Cambodian men put so much emphasis on the virginity of their future wives?
According to Cambodian tradition, virginity is crucial. Chumvan Sodhajhivy, a lecturer at Royal University of Fine Art, says that for a long time, Khmer people have believed that virginity is the best property of a single lady.
“In traditional Khmer conceptions, when a man and a woman are getting married, a man brings a dowry to propose to a woman, so the lady must give him her virginity in return,” Sodhajhivy says.
Doctor Leap Sovan, a women’s health expert at Kossamak Hospital, says that most of the time, virgin women have a thin membrane located between their vagina and womb. If a lady has never had sex or put something inside her vagina, the membrane will never be torn: an indication of virginity.
“Men want to have sex with a virgin woman for a lot of reasons, sometimes because of belief, or because they think that virgins could give them more sexual pleasure,” says Doctor Sovan.
Tradition has put a lot of pressure on ladies, since they have to control their sexual desires until they get married in order to keep their virginity – unlike men, who have much more freedom.
However, this is the 21st century, technology is very developed, and virginity is no longer a concern for some women, for it can be renewed by a simple operation.
Linda, who sells artificial products for those who've lost their virginity, said that her virginity products are imported from Japan. They are in demand since it is new, unique and useful.
“An artificial virgin’s membrane is made from Japanese medicine which is similar to real blood, so if users just put this artificial membrane inside their vagina 20 minutes before having sex, they would get a great result,” Linda said.
Jou Yinsin, secretary at the Ministry of Health, said that he was surprised after he heard about the kinds of products imported for trade in Cambodia. It seems unacceptable to him because it would spoil a great culture and tradition.
“Before these products are sold in the Cambodian market, the seller should have to register with the Ministry of Health, so that our staff would make an appropriate experiment to see whether it is safe to be used,” he said.