Today is one of those days when you have conversations with both Khmer and expat missionaries and realize this would make a good blog comment :-) It all started with a discussion on Khmer culture where a friend of mind was sharing that when people have been married for a while, they stop having sex. Of course, this got my curiosity so I couldn't help but ask a few more questions. I am told that some Khmer women once they have fulfilled their motherly role of having children, feel that there is no further need for sex!
As I thought about this a bit more and asked a few more questions to a variety of people today, an interesting picture was taking shape. I have mentioned previously that sex education is not taught in the school system here at least not in the recent past but that may be slowly changing at this point. As a result, young people are growing up in this culture looking at pornography to learn about sex and for young men, their experimentation can lead them into more degrading behavior where they gang rape a young woman. All of this further devalues women and reinforces the Cambodian proverb ''men are like gold, women are like cloth.''
What fascinated me with this conversation was the implication of what happens when a wife refuses her husband. I am told that even within marriage there can be sexual abuse and rape as some husbands---even Christians believe that since they are the head of the home, their wives have to do what they ask of them and if the wife refuses, well the husband will force himself on her. So often here we read in the papers of domestic violence and as one of my Khmer friends said, part of that violence is related to sexual frustration as the wives refuse to give into their husband's urges. Furthermore, with the lack of sex education, men are more interested in fulfilling their own desires then blessing their wives. So sex is not mutually enjoyed. It seems Khmer women do not seem to find it pleasurable but rather a duty they have to do. One of my Khmer friends told me that even when people get married, some may wait for a whole month before they consummate the marriage. For other husbands, their wives refusal makes them involuntarily celibate and so their response is to look outside the marriage.
This all had me thinking why we hear stories about Khmer men having multiple girlfriends and why adultery sadly is becoming a more common event here and why divorce is on the rise. Hence, it is common to see Khmer men out with their buddies at the beer gardens and karoke bars. Those venues provide an opportunity for the men to feed their unmet sexual appetites. It also explains why some of my single female Khmer friends do not trust Khmer men for in their experiences, they have repeatedly had married men proposition them on a regular basis. They have not witnessed a godly male role model and they begin to believe that Khmer men in particular, cannot be trusted.
All of this points again to the fact that the Khmer continue to suffer from trauma that infiltrates all areas of their lives. When the moral structures are broken, when sex education is not taught in an appropriate environment, women are viewed and are treated more as objects rather than human beings. There is much healing that is needed in this land. Pray for a healthy perspective on sexuality and healing for both Khmer men and Khmer women and for God to raise up godly marriages that demonstrate and model His heart and His love!