News / Asia

Youth Group Steps in to Provide Sex Ed in Vietnam

A student named Aggie recently presented about contraception at Nguyen Cong Tru High School in Vietnam. (Courtesy: AIESEC)
A student named Aggie recently presented about contraception at Nguyen Cong Tru High School in Vietnam. (Courtesy: AIESEC)
Don’t expect to see teachers demonstrating condom use with bananas or cucumbers during a sex education class in Vietnam. Teachers avoid the subject of sexuality as much as possible, eschewing the practical for the minimal. If students get any instruction on the topic at all, it’s usually folded into a brief biology lesson about puberty or HIV.
 
But a group of young people are trying to do what high school teachers are too shy to do: Teach students what they need to know about sex.
 
Phan Thi Hoai Yen guides students at a Vietnamese high school on how to use a condom. (Courtesy: AIESEC)Phan Thi Hoai Yen guides students at a Vietnamese high school on how to use a condom. (Courtesy: AIESEC)
x
Phan Thi Hoai Yen guides students at a Vietnamese high school on how to use a condom. (Courtesy: AIESEC)
Phan Thi Hoai Yen guides students at a Vietnamese high school on how to use a condom. (Courtesy: AIESEC)
A local chapter of AIESEC, a global student organization, has been visiting high schools to deliver a crash course on sex. The members, who are college students, warn their audience about the dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and demonstrate how to use condoms, cucumber and all.
 
“At some high schools, the students are very active,” AIESEC’s Nguyen Thi Thuy Linh said. “They raise their hand and talk, and go on stage to put the condom on the cucumber in front of everyone.”
 
Sex has long been a taboo topic in Vietnam. But developments in recent years have made the consequences of unprotected sex more apparent. Vietnam is among the countries with the highest abortion rates, according to the Guttmacher Institute, which works with the United Nations to research reproductive health. The rate has risen especially since the turn of the century, after ultrasound technology made gender-selective abortions possible.
 
In addition, an increasing number of young people are migrating to the cities for work or university. Away from their families, the migrants live in single or shared rentals that make it easier to have premarital sex.
 
The newspaper Tien Phong (“Pioneer”) reported in September that, although Vietnamese are getting married later, the age they begin to have sex has decreased 1.5 years since 2008.
 
Between 2007 and 2012, the percentage of adolescent abortions compared with total abortions more than doubled at Tu Do, the top maternity hospital in Ho Chi Minh City, according to Tien Phong. What’s more, 55.8 percent of people living with HIV are between 20 and 29 years old.
 
The data suggests that more young people are having sex and at an earlier age, but sex education in public schools isn’t keeping up with the times. Most young Vietnamese learn about sex by searching the web, reading magazines, and talking with friends.
 
“Adolescent reproductive health care is not fully recognized or implemented, with sexual and reproductive health education in school still a sensitive issue,” UNICEF Vietnam wrote in a 2010 report.
 
Among young people, as few as 14 percent use contraception, while 23 percent don’t know about sexually transmitted infections, according to UNICEF.
 
It doesn’t help that adults still push the younger generation to wait until marriage to have sex, and create stigma by associating HIV with prostitution.
 
“We don’t really know how to keep safe,” said Linh, 22. “In Vietnam, we never talk to our parents about sexuality.”
 
Besides the lessons at local schools, AIESEC is reaching out to peers in other places. In August, the group held a festival for families in Ho Chi Minh City, using the theme of safe sex around the world. A sign at one booth said the Dutch openly discuss sex with their children, and posters at another booth read, “Safe sex is awesome!” During an international fashion show, contestants answered questions from the judges about sexually transmitted diseases.
 
To spread awareness elsewhere, AIESEC members visit HIV shelters and held an essay contest. They also talk to young people at parks, a popular destination for Vietnamese want to get away from their crowded houses. At the public parks, the volunteers discuss everything from homosexuality to abortion, and give out condoms.
 
The government has shown some support for condom campaigns, such as teaching sex workers how to use them, distributing contraceptives at hotels and karaoke bars, and posting billboards with sexy cartoon women saying, in this modern age, there’s no need to be shy about condoms.

You May Like

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More