Celebrity Couple Takes on New Role: Birth Control Education

Well-known film actors and local celebrity couple Chorn Chanlekhe­na and Yuthara Chhan­ny have a new starring role: championing fam­ily planning and educating wo­men about birth control.

An actress in more than 20 films—including two directed by retired King Norodom Sihanouk—Chorn Chanlekhena, 28, has been married to actor Yuthara Chhanny, 36, for 12 years. The couple has a 2-year-old daughter.

Chorn Chanlekhena said that they plan to have a second child within two or three years, and it’s that message of planned parenthood that they are promoting as goodwill ambassadors for the family planning organization, Marie Stopes In­ternational Cambodia.

“I think that every family must have children by choice, not by chance,” Chorn Chanlekhena said Tuesday, ahead of a news conference Friday to officially launch her new role.

“Having children by chance or forcibly becoming pregnant will lead women to seek unsafe abortions…. The majority of women in the countryside seeking unsafe abortions always face high risks,” she said.

Open family planning is more important than ever in Cambodia given the current economic climate, said Che Katz, Marie Stopes program director.

“When women have no control over the size of their family, it brings economic problems in their family and leads them into poverty, basically,” Katz said Tuesday.

“We’ve seen cases of 40 women traveling in a truck for hours to try and stop their fertility. They are 30 years old and they have eight kids, and they don’t want to have any more because they can’t afford it,” she said.

“Everyone should have the right to make choices about the number of children they have.”

While birth control pills and condoms are widely available in Cam­bodia as short-term family planning methods, correct and consistent usage of those methods isn’t as prevalent, lessening the effectiveness, Katz said.

Longer-term birth control through intrauterine devices, or sterilization through tubal ligations or vasectomies, and safe abortions are even harder to come by, Katz added.

 

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