Thailand’s Ministry of Interior Affairs is cracking down on underage sex ahead of Valentine's Day as a response to recent media surveys that showed teenagers in the country pick the unofficial holiday as the “perfect day to lose their virginity.” The ministry has issued an order to all provincial authorities to ensure that nightclubs and hotels observe underage sex laws in the country, and city officials have recommended the youths visit temples instead. "If kids really love each other, it's better for them to go and free birds and fish or go to the temple," Pirapong Saicheua, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration deputy city clerk, told Reuters. “Better to put your minds at ease. Don’t obsess over something inappropriate for your age.”
Police Maj. Gen. Patipat Suban na Ayutthaya told parents, guardians and teachers to instruct children to be extra careful on Valentine’s Day this Saturday, according to the Chiang Rai Times. State agencies and the police have launched campaigns every year, and police units around the country are on heightened alert this year to “increase vigilance in risky areas in which sexual harassment and crimes can take place,” said Patipat. He also urged entertainment venues and nightclubs to report inappropriate behavior to the police.
The predominantly Buddhist country remains conservative socially despite its international reputation as a hotspot for night clubs, gay bars and “ladyboy shows” -- cabaret performances featuring transvestites and transgenders. Still, Thailand’s teenage pregnancy rates continue to be one of the highest in Southeast Asia, and HIV rates remain high among the gay population. Authorities have made 3.5 million condoms available in 68 healthcare centers and 10 city hospitals ahead of celebrated day of romance, and Pirapong last Friday called on the country's youth to be careful about unprotected sex, encouraging them to go to temples on Valentine’s Day as well, according to Thai news site The Nation.
There were also plans to install condom vending machines in high schools, said Thailand’s Department of Disease Control head Sophon Mekthon, according to Reuters. The plan was first tested in 2010, and while welcomed by students, around 90 percent of parents opposed the move, fearing the machines would encourage underage sex. "I think sex can't be prohibited," said Khemaphat Santong, a 21-year-old student at the city's Chulalongkorn University told Reuters. “I mean, in some public places, yes, but stopping someone from doing it entirely is impossible."