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  • Viviane Nguyen

Cupping sensationalized in the Olympics may reduce child-abuse accusations against Vietnamese parent

While the media goes into a frenzy around the circular marks resembling bruises on swimmers’ backs during the Olympic games, the Vietnamese community is all too familiar with the cupping method simply shrugs.

This cupping technique is widely practiced in Vietnamese households for centuries as part of traditional Eastern medicine to rid of ailments, aches, and pains.

The curiosity created by the media surrounding athletes such as Michael Phelps who adorned cupping marks on his back caused a great sensation. One would have thought these high performing athletes would be the first to implement this ancient healing technique, but this is not the case until now. This year's Olympic games introduced this ancient Eastern medicine method as a new potential athletic trend.

The old process of cupping, or “giác hơi,” is done by heating a glass cup with a flame then placing the cup onto the skin to trap the hot air. Once the air cools, the cups are removed. Now there are more simple implements using pumping actions and no flames. The suction created causes the skin to bruise. These circular marks are similar to hickies.

These same bruises are the cause of many accusations towards Vietnamese parents for abusing their children. In an analysis by Hao Nhien-Vu, reports of child abuse as recent as the 2000s by this traditional practice have resulted in court cases where Vietnamese parents have to combat abuse charges and help reconcile cultural ignorance towards these traditional Vietnamese medical remedies. Perhaps now with the publicity of the technique and benefits of cupping, the practice can become more acceptable instead of punishable.

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Viviane Nguyen She is a lover of politics. She has researched and worked in different levels of government in San Jose, Sacramento, Washington D.C., and Thailand. She is motivated to highlight issues impacting the Vietnamese-American community and Asian American communities at large. She was formerly a Cal-in-Sacramento Fellow at UC Berkeley and notably a Public Policy and International Affairs Fellow at the Goldman School of Public Policy. She wants to write to show why politics, especially in 2016, is important.

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