IES: Vietnam


HMONG (Vietnam; Thailand, China)





See also American Hmong





Rice (2000:p28, 33-6, 41)[1] states that “Hmong girls and boys start to court as soon as they are eligible. There is some variation of opinion as to what age is suitable to begin courting. Some say that they should not be “too young”. Women in my study mention ages 13 to 16 as eligible ages for courtship. This age range coincides with the average age of onset of menstruation, signifying that the young woman is mature enough to court and ready to bear children. However, some say that “naughty” children may start sooner:


“Some children who are naughty and stubborn, they may start courting at a younger age like 13 or 14, but if they are obedient and they listen to their parents they will start at around 15 or 16” ”.


One informant for Thai Hmong told Geddes (1976:p91)[2] that courtship could begin at age seven, though Geddes asserts that it usually begins with adolescence. Although premarital virginity is prized, a code tells a “naughty” girl that she should not resist intercourse for more than two private meetings with the same boy. Among the Australian Hmong, patterns have only slightly changed, such as the significance of the ball game (cf. American Hmong).

Girls of five or six start wearing prepubic sev [two pieces of cloth], a symbol of womanhood and sexuality. “Prior to puberty, a young Hmong girl is taught that sexuality is secret and she must keep her genital area covered by wearing sev”. At least among the Northwestern Vietnamese Hmong, infant genitals are stoked by mothers (personal observation, 1997).









Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Sept 2004


[1] Rice, P. L. (2000) Hmong Women and Reproduction. London: Bergin & Garvey

[2] Geddes, W. R. (1976) Migrants of the Mountains. Oxford: Oxford University Press