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UNESCO HIV and Health Education Clearinghouse

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  1. Customary adolescent sexual practices among the Akha of northern Lao PDR: considerations for public health

    Based on interviews and focus group discussions conducted in northern Laos, this study explores Akha understandings of customary first pre-pubertal sex acts, a thonh thong (‘break through vagina’ [BV]) for girls and yaha heu (‘open foreskin’ [OF]) for boys, which are thought to enable the maturing of bodies into adulthood. The study also examines the practice of a thor ta yang (‘Welcome Guest’) in which sexually initiated girls have sex with male visitors to Akha villages. The study found that many young women experience BV as painful and traumatic. …

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