Ho Chi Minh City (AsiaNews) - In a period when the number of abortions is rising, especially among young people, Caritas Vietnam has decided to redouble its efforts in favour of proper sex education and the protection of life from conception.
The courses offered by the Catholic charity aim at "protecting life and teaching a healthy sexuality at the community and parish levels", said one of the volunteers working for the Catholic organisation in Saigon, through work that involves the participation of catechists and catechumens.
The Redemptorists, who are present in 17 of the country's dioceses (as of 2012), have been involved in the work in Ho Chi Minh City since 2004 through specific actions in favour of mothers and children.
As a whole, Catholic activists and pro-life movements are alarmed by the latest figures. In the past five years, in fact, Vietnam-a nation for decades based on the family and traditional values-has become "one of the three countries in the world with the highest number of abortions," right after China.
Every year, at least 1.7 million women terminate their pregnancy, 300,000 of whom are teenagers, often believing that abortion is the only way for them to continue to live with their partner without making a commitment to a real family.
Changing social mores like greater commercialisation and commodification of sex are an additional factor.
"In my class, at least 14 per cent of students have had sex before marriage," a student from Ho Chi Minh City's University of Social Sciences and Humanities told AsiaNews. When students get pregnant during school time, they end it "through an abortion".
This is not a "worrisome social phenomenon", said another student because terminating a pregnancy has now become something "normal".
"When you do not have money, every 'means' is good to make a living and raise money to continue studying," he explained in a clear reference to students getting into the sex trade to pay for their studies.
This is why Caritas Vietnam decided to act, and redouble its efforts, especially among young people who are a known "group at risk ".
According to groups of volunteers active in the country's central highlands for the past 22 years, a lot has been done in an attempt to stem the flow, through investment and health care that have allowed us to "avoid at least 2,000 abortions."
However, in the old capital of South Vietnam, the number of abortions is out of control, growing exponentially, said Sister Maria Raymonde, a member of Caritas Saigon.
This is why "we want to promote programmes for the protection of life," as well as provide "psychological counselling and medical care to young people," involving "more and more boys and girls" in the project.