International Handbook of Adolescent Pregnancy

Type Book Section - Vietnam: The Doi Moi Era and Changes in Young People’s Lives
Title International Handbook of Adolescent Pregnancy
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2014
Page numbers 683-706
Publisher Springer
Before Doi Moi, Vietnamese culture was strongly influenced by Buddhism and Chinese Confucianism. According to Confucianism, a woman’s value is measured by four characteristics: doing housework well, a beautiful appearance, talking genteelly, and following traditional ethics. Men and women were not allowed to have close relationships outside marriage as Confucianism states that: “Man and woman do not give and receive physically.” This means that it is forbidden for men and women to physically touch one another. Another Confucian norm that influenced Vietnamese culture was that: “Before marriage, a woman must obey her father; after marriage, she must obey her husband; when her husband dies, she must obey her son.” Women did not have the right to choose or decide anything during their lives, especially regarding relationships with a person of the opposite sex. Vietnamese adolescents are now influenced both by modern life and traditional culture. They are better educated and more technologically savvy, and an increasing number are living independently from their families for some time. In comparison to the pre-Doi Moi era, young people are becoming sexually active at an earlier age (including outside marriage) but they do not yet have sufficient knowledge in relation to safe sex and contraception, which leads to a high number of pregnancies. Despite their increased independence and acceptance of premarital sex, adolescents are still close to their families and usually accede to parental influence regarding pregnancy and marriage. Premarital pregnancies are not approved; so unwanted pregnancies often end in abortion. Because of various barriers, unmarried young women tend to access abortion services late in pregnancy may seek clandestine (and unsafe) abortion care or give birth and then abandon the newborn babies.

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