“This year local authorities will be monitoring guesthouses throughout the capital.”
Chuon Narin, a deputy police commissioner in Phnom Penh, 9 February 2014
“Now some youths may have heard the publicity of the report saying such and such number of youths planning to have sex on 14 Feb. and they may plan to follow suit, as compared to otherwise not doing anything special on the day, having heard little about it.”
Economist Chan Sophal, 13 February, 2014
“Valentine's Day was not popular at all in Cambodia until 1993, when Cambodia held the first UN-sponsored general elections.”
Public health independent researcher Tong Soprach, 9 February 2014
It is quite fascinating to observe what people will do on the upcoming St Valentine’s Day. According to a research study by Tong Soprach, Love and Sexual Relationships, about 16% of young people in a relationship look forward to sex on the Day. About 30% of them plan to go without the help of condoms.
For the 70% who need them, they can pick them up on their way to a guesthouse for free from Aids Healthcare Foundation (AHF) where 100,000 condoms are waiting on first-in-best-dressed basis.
The Soprach study says about half of the parents have no idea what their children are up to on the Day. However, they can take some comfort with the knowledge that local authorities will be monitoring guesthouses. It is not certain though what they are going to do when seeing some actions there, unless they are a Peeping Tom.
The AHF condoms may prevent spread of aids, but one of the side effects is that they also stop babies from being produced. This unintended consequence on population growth will not thrill too many economists who worship a GDP growth that is based on an oversupply of manpower to sustain cheap labour – their drawcard for foreign investments.
Meanwhile, the Soprach research also reveals about half of young men are determined to enjoy it whether it is consensual or not, so the Valentine date may turn out to be rape date for some. This makes even more relevant One Billion Rising campaign to end violence against women timely launched by Gender and Development for Cambodia.
Nevertheless, if there is a need to blame something for the sexual activities that links to violence against women and failure to contribute to cheap labour for further impressive GDP growth, the 1993 UN elections and the publicity of the research will do. And those who are responsible for education since 1993 can just relax and monitor people having fun.
Ung Bun Ang