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Midwives on motorbikes spread sex awareness in Cambodia


Summary taken from, June 2, 2011

‘Midwives-on-Motos’, a Cambodian project operating in five provinces, aims to improve family planning in Cambodia by travelling to where the services are most needed.

Launched by Marie Stopes International, a non-profit reproductive health organisation, the project is helping people like mother-of-two Beun Chem, 27.

She wants to hold off having more children so she can focus on running her small shop. She said, “I am happy to learn about contraception and reduce some concerns I had. Now I want to try the implant.”

She had previously heard about it on television but she says laughing, “I didn’t know where they would put it.”

For some women in rural areas, getting an abortion is easier than seeking contraceptives, with official figures revealing that 56 per cent of Cambodian women aged between 15 and 49 reported having at least one abortion.

Nesim Tumkaya, officer-in-charge of the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) in the country, said:”Rural and remote areas of Cambodia remain with limited access to reproductive health services.

“In Cambodia, abortion is legal, though we would like to see it minimised by ensuring that every woman and man has access to contraception.”

Another key challenge is to get women in Cambodia to open up about their sexual health concerns.

Ly Siyan, one of the mobile midwives, explained: “They do not talk openly to us but they chat with their friends and that’s how misunderstandings spread. So I try to get them to open up by sharing my own experiences.”

Cambodian Women’s Affairs Minister, Ing Kantha Phavi, told Advanced Family Planning  (AFP): “Our traditions and customs make women feel shy talking about sexual health or reproductive health.

“Our society is developing and we should focus on educating girls about sexual and reproductive health in the family and in school programmes… so that they can take care of themselves.”

Sex education is not compulsory in Cambodian schools and teachers often give students only the most basic information.

Ing Kantha Phavi,  encouraged by the efforts made by the mobile midwives and peer educators, said, “I believe that little by little Cambodia can change the habits that bring danger to women.”

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