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V-Day warnings issued

Two boys carry heart-shaped balloons and a huge Teddy Bear stuffed toy to celebrate Valentine's Day last year in Phnom Penh.
Two boys carry heart-shaped balloons and a huge Teddy Bear stuffed toy to celebrate Valentine's Day last year in Phnom Penh. Hong Menea

V-Day warnings issued

The Ministry of Education released its annual Valentine’s Day warning yesterday, reminding young people to preserve their reputation and dignity.

The statement reminds young people that the holiday should not be an excuse to engage in sexual activity.

“Youths lose their reputation and the dignity and reputation of their family. They abandon Khmer traditions and dignity,” the message, signed by Minister Hang Chuon Naron, continues.

The government issues a similar warning every year, prompted by fears that young men will use the holiday to pressure women into having sex. In a 2014 survey in Phnom Penh, just over 40 percent of young men said they would attempt to somehow coerce their partner into sex.

On Saturday, Safe Cities for Women (SCW) Cambodia released a video featuring well-known Cambodian women, including pop stars and athletes, appealing to the public for respect this Valentine’s Day.

SCW rights campaign adviser Kate Seewald said there were many cases in which women were “pressured, harassed and in some cases assaulted by their dates on Valentine’s Day”, but that “changing the pervasive attitudes that violence against women is normal” remained a challenge.

Meanwhile, Theresa de Langis, a gender studies researcher, said that the Valentine’s Day dynamic was demonstrative of a sexual “double standard”.

“Women are supposed to remain pure, but there’s a part of masculine identity that’s about being sexually experienced,” she said, calling this mixture “a recipe for violence and force”.

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