Monday, February 16, 2009

The Valentine’s Day Affects Cambodian Tradition

BY BUTH REAKSMEY KONGKEA

The Culture and Fine Arts Ministry’s Secretary of State Som Sokun has appealed to Cambodian youth to respect their own customs and traditions and not adopt the Valentine’s Day Traditions. He said the Festival is diluting Cambodian culture and traditions.

“Valentine’s Day is not a Cambodian festival, it is a Roman Festival in which women proclaim their love and men buy overpriced gifts and single people getting depressed,” he said during an interview with The Cambodia Weekly February 11.

The Secretary of State said that there are so many young people making love and sacrificing their purity during Valentine’s Day in Cambodia. He said these activities will have a negative effect in Cambodia.

“I think that the Valentine’s festival is good for people in developed countries but it is not so good for our people who must preserve their culture and traditions,” he said. “We should not allow sex before marriage,” he added.

He pointed out that recent years, many Cambodians saw the festival as an excuse to lose their virginity. He added that this attitude was very risky in terms of health and contrary to local customs.

“I appeal to the youth of Cambodia to pay their pure love and respect to their parents and teachers, and study hard to become good citizens and future leaders,” he added.

Mao Sopouthyroth, Program Coordinator of the Youth Council of Cambodia, a local Non-Government Organization in Phnom Penh, said that many Cambodian youngsters misinterpreted the meaning of Valentine’s Day.

“Many Cambodians, both male and female believe that Valentine’s Day is an excuse to find a guest or other safe house and indulge in private pleasures,” she told the Cambodia Weekly during an interview on January 13.

The Program Coordinator said that according to report, over 70 percent of the population of Cambodia is below the age of 21. She added that according to her own research, Valentine’s Day is the day of choice for staging an introduction to private adult matters.

“I am afraid that if they continue to commit such acts on Valentine’s Day, they run the risk of contracting HIV/ AIDS. I also appeal to them to turn this festival into a day of respect for parents, teachers and friends,” she said.

Kasem Kolnary, Executive Director of Cambodian HIV/AIDS Education and Care said that to raise HIV/AIDS awareness in young people, her organization has produced a “sex education spot”.

She said that the presentations would educate young people about sexual relations and HIV/AIDS Education. They will be screened on the Cambodian Television Network (CTN) and aired on Radio FM 102 from the 11th -18th February 2009.

“Many young people decide to have their first experiences during the Valentine festival. Most of them do not use condoms so my message is to advise them not to have sex before the marriage,” she said.

Beng Dareth, Deputy Chief of the Intervention Police Unit in the Ministry of Interior, said that at least 50 young people came to Chroy Changvar and Preah Monivong bridges to commit suicide before and after the Valentine’s Festival Day.

He continued that most victims were young females who said that their husbands or boyfriends had been unfaithful to them and that life was no longer worth living.

“Suicidal women always say they have problems in their private affairs,” he said. “They jump from the bridge into the river; they are lucky because they don’t hurt themselves too badly and we are there to pick them up and send them home.”

He pointed out that prior to Valentine’s Day, a total of 20 young people attempt suicide at Chroy Changvar and Preah Monivong bridges. During Valentine’s Day, his police launches are on call 24 hours a day.

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