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Marriage in Democratic Kampuchea

Due to the suffering and excesses of the Khmer Rouge regime it is almost hard to believe that there was any semblance of “real life” in the country, such as marriage, but indeed there was.

Angkar (as the Khmer Rouge styled themselves) wanted a big population who could farm and defend the nation, so marriage and children were needed to develop the country. Alas like everything else with the Khmer Rouge it had to be controlled and fit into the Democratic Kampuchean policy.

Arranged marriages in Democratic Kampuchea

Arranged marriages are hardly uncommon in Asia, and even before the Khmer Rouge came to power were part of life in Cambodia, but as with everything the Khmer Rouge were to put a major spin on things.

Most couples were not permitted to choose their own partner (depending on their level in Angkar) and were married in mass ceremonies that could involve as little as 3 couples up to 100. Often times the couples had not even met before the wedding ceremony. In the past parents might choose who their children wed, but in the system of  the Khmer Rouge Angkar was everyones parent.

Family members did not attend the weddings and it was largely functionary, rather than celebratory.

Many women were “gifted” to soldiers who had lost limbs fighting for the Khmer Rouge. If the women refused the marriage she would like face reeducation, as would anyone who did not want to marry their assigned partner. In most cases reeducation equalled death. It is crazy quite how history repeats itself, and indeed some comparison here between the Khmer Rouge and ISIS certainly exists.

Once married couples were allowed to spend one night together, before having to return back to their work groups. They would then be allowed to meet every 7-10 days (depending on the work group), with the hope being that they procreate.

There was not be no jewelry worn at the weddings, no religious connotations and it was merely to be part of the the “Super Great Leap Forward Revolution”, which had been borrowed from the Chinese “Great Leap Forward”.

Theoretically once children were born they would largely be raised and indoctrinated by the Khmer Rouge state.

Due to the shortness of the regime this plan was never to bear fruit. Many divorced shortly afterwards, but there are at least a few success stories from the period.

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