To mark the International Youth Day 2018, the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) and the UN Youth Advisory Panel screened three short films that focused on the theme on the perceptions of Cambodian youth on sex.
At the film screening in Meta House on August 13, audience witnessed stories of young people who got involved in early marriages, premarital sex and abuse. These stories are aimed at teaching the youth to be responsible in their acts and to fight for their rights, especially if they know that their vulnerabilities are being taken advantage of.
Daniel Alemu, deputy representative of UNFPA in Cambodia, said reminded the youth that they will someday become the country’s leaders. The screened short films will be their guide in choosing the paths they will be taking, he said. He also commended the young filmmakers who participated in the film screening for extending their creativity and talents in making worth-watching and inspiring motion pictures.
“We must include all the young voices that too often go unheard. When we empower, equip and give them space, they can pursue their dreams and hopes,” Mr Alemu said.
According to UNFPA, many young Cambodians are vulnerable to social problems – 40 percent of them are still informally employed, 20 percent of female youths aged 15 to 30 still face sexual violence from their intimate partners, and one in eight adolescent girls is already a mother or is currently pregnant with her first child.
Roun Thangdy, vice president of Cambodian Youth Action, said that his short film focused on a girl who was married since she was 18 years old when her parents arranged her marriage with a boy she had never met. Despite her initial protest, she had to follow what her parents wanted her to do.
“The video showed that this young girl has been married for five years and has two kids. But she thinks that her husband is doing inappropriate acts against her. After five years, she decided to divorce him. She knew that she has responsibilities to her children, but she couldn’t stand her husband anymore,” he shared.
Mr Thangdy said he based his story from a girl in Battambang who experienced such cruelty. He said his film does not just reflect the experiences of one girl, but of many Cambodian girls who were forced into marriages.
Another short film showed a young boy who regretted having pre-marital sex with a girl who eventually got pregnant. The boy in the video said he quit school after learning about girlfriend’s pregnancy and moved away.
The films, with their sensitive themes, emphasised the importance of proper sex education among young people so they know the consequences of their actions and the possible permanent damages that unwanted circumstances may create in their lives.
The film screening was initiated by UNFPA and UN Youth Advisory Panel to give Cambodian youths a platform to express themselves and have a voice in the UN system.