|Medical students learning about Women's Health|
In a mixed setting with both male and females in the room, Dr. Sapna was displaying images of female anatomy and male anatomy and proceeded to ask questions. It was quite interesting observing the reactions of our staff and her male interns. They smiled but no one wanted to respond. They were all embarrassed. I walked over to her and shared she probably would have to give the answers to her own questions as in a mixed setting like this, the Khmer would feel uncomfortable and awkward. These type of discussions are so sensitive and issues relating to sex are not normally discussed in public settings much less in a mix group of men and women.
|Dr. Sapna describing how to use a condom|
In Cambodia, modesty and conservative values foster an environment where basic sex education is not taught in schools so the young people do not have a good understanding of how their bodies work. Dr. Sapna proceeded to show how to use a tampon for menstruation and she began to share different forms of birth control including opening a condom and demonstrating how it is used ---you should have heard the laughter in the room as the condom was passed around. Now, we are not encouraging sexual activity but it is important for our staff to be familiar with these issues since they no doubt will be having conversations associated with birth control and the options available to young women as they eventually get married.
In this culture where virginity of a female is so important and where purity is so important, the same standards do not apply to males. The familiar Cambodian proverb ''men are like gold and women are like cloth'' reflects this ongoing belief. Gold even if it gets dirty can be polished and be clean again, but a cloth that is dirty, is permanently stained. As we prepare to receive young women who have experienced the worst level of human degradation and abuse, our desire is for them to discover that in Christ, they can be set free of the stigma associated with their past and can know that He is the One who not only can cleanse them of the defilement that they have experienced but bestow on them value that is more precious than gold!