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

US Imposes Sanctions on Alleged Honduran Drug Gang

Treasury department alleges Los Valles group is responsible for smuggling tens of thousands of kilograms of cocaine into US each month More

At 91, Marvel Creator Stan Lee Continues to Expand his Universe

Company's chief emeritus hopes to interest new generation of children in superheroes of all shapes and sizes by publishing content across multiple media platforms More

Photogallery New Drug Protects Against Virus in Ebola Family

Study by researchers at University of Texas Medical Branch, Tekmira Pharmaceuticals is first looking at drug's effectiveness after onset of symptoms More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebolai
X
George Putic
August 20, 2014 8:57 PM
While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls For Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid