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

    Multimedia Obama Calls on Americans to Help the Families of Its War Dead

    In last Memorial Day of his presidency, Obama lays wreath at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier at Arlington National Cemetery

    The Strife of the Party: Will Trump Permanently Alter Republicans?

    While billionaire mogul's no-holds-barred style, high-energy delivery are what rocketed him to nomination, they also have created rift between party elites and his supporters

    China's Education Reforms Spark Protest

    Beijing is putting a quota system in place to increase the number of students from poor regions attending universities

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trendi
    X
    May 27, 2016 5:57 AM
    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Chinese-Americans Heart Trump, Bucking National Trend

    A new study conducted by three Asian-American organizations shows there are three times as many Democrats as there are Republicans among Asian-American voters, and they favor Hillary Clinton over Donald Trump. But one group, called Chinese-Americans For Trump, is going against the tide and strongly supports the business tycoon. VOA’s Elizabeth Lee caught up with them at a Trump rally and reports from Anaheim, California.
    Video

    Video Reactions to Trump's Success Polarized Abroad

    What seemed impossible less than a year ago is now almost a certainty. New York real estate mogul Donald Trump has won the number of delegates needed to secure the Republican presidential nomination. The prospect has sparked as much controversy abroad as it has in the United States. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Drawings by Children in Hiroshima Show Hope and Peace

    On Friday, President Barack Obama will visit Hiroshima, Japan, the first American president to do so while in office. In August 1945, the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city to force Japan's surrender in World War II. Although their city lay in ruins, some Hiroshima schoolchildren drew pictures of hope and peace. The former students and their drawings are now part of a documentary called “Pictures from a Hiroshima Schoolyard.” VOA's Deborah Block has the story.
    Video

    Video Vietnamese Rapper Performs for Obama

    A prominent young Vietnamese artist told President Obama said she faced roadblocks as a woman rapper, and asked the president about government support for the arts. He asked her to rap, and he even offered to provide a base beat for her. Watch what happened.
    Video

    Video Roots Run Deep for Tunisia's Dwindling Jewish Community

    This week, hundreds of Jewish pilgrims are defying terrorist threats to celebrate an ancient religious festival on the Tunisian island of Djerba. The festivities cast a spotlight on North Africa's once-vibrant Jewish population that has all but died out in recent decades. Despite rising threats of militant Islam and the country's battered economy, one of the Arab world's last Jewish communities is staying put and nurturing a new generation. VOA’s Lisa Bryant reports.
    Video

    Video Meet Your New Co-Worker: The Robot

    Increasing numbers of robots are joining the workforce, as companies scale back and more processes become automated. The latest robots are flexible and collaborative, built to work alongside humans as opposed to replacing them. VOA’s Tina Trinh looks at the next generation of automated employees helping out their human colleagues.
    Video

    Video Wheelchair Technology in Tune With Times

    Technologies for the disabled, including wheelchair technology, are advancing just as quickly as everything else in the digital age. Two new advances in wheelchairs offer improved control and a more comfortable fit. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Baby Boxes Offer Safe Haven for Unwanted Children

    No one knows exactly how many babies are abandoned worldwide each year. The statistic is a difficult one to determine because it is illegal in most places. Therefore unwanted babies are often hidden and left to die. But as Erika Celeste reports from Woodburn, Indiana, a new program hopes to make surrendering infants safer for everyone.
    Video

    Video California Celebration Showcases Local Wines, Balloons

    Communities in the U.S. often hold festivals to show what makes them special. In California, for example, farmers near Fresno celebrate their figs and those around Gilmore showcase their garlic. Mike O'Sullivan reports that the wine-producing region of Temecula offers local vintages in an annual festival where rides on hot-air balloons add to the excitement.
    Video

    Video US Elementary School Offers Living Science Lessons

    Zero is not a good score on a test at school. But Discovery Elementary is proud of its “net zero” rating. Net zero describes a building in which the amount of energy provided by on-site renewable sources equals the amount of energy the building uses. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, the innovative features in the building turn the school into a teaching tool, where kids can't help but learn about science and sustainability. Faith Lapidus narrates.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora