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Jump to. A reluctance to use condoms has helped lead to a rise in HIV infections in the Arab world. Paul Keller under a Creative Commons Licence. Sex in the Arab world is the opposite of sport. This is what a gynaecologist in Egypt told me. Everyone talks about football but hardly anyone plays it; whereas everyone is having sex but no-one wants to talk about it.
My problem was not getting people to talk about sex, but getting them to stop. People were very eager to ask questions and to speak openly about their experiences. The problem in the Arab region is the gap between appearance and reality.
Which begs the question: who are all these young men having sex with? My biggest hope is that we can reclaim the spirit of our ancestors, for whom sex was not just a problem but a pleasure. And it was not just a pleasure for men, but also for women. I met a woman in Morocco who had had a one-night stand. They had superficial relations and the man had ejaculated on her legs. When she went to a doctor, she had absolutely no idea she was pregnant. The problem is that virginity is defined in this quite superficial way.
It le young people into deeply unhealthy behaviours. No way are we going to become pregnant. We only have oral or anal sex because we want to get married. Many people are under the impression that there is no HIV in the Arab world, but it is one of only two regions where HIV infections are still on the rise. Taboos around sex are a huge obstacle to rising to the challenge of the epidemic. There is also the issue of same-sex relations in the Arab world. Of course, these are alive and well. Roughly two to three per cent of the population engages in same-sex activity.
But you do see movement. Inno woman would speak out about sexual harassment or being raped. Fast forward toand you find women in Egypt speaking out about their experiences. Sex is one part of that. A lot of arguments have been hijacked by Islamic conservatives. People have become incredibly conservative, not just Muslim but also Christian and Jewish conservatives. They wrap sex up in religion and use it as a tool of control.
This creates a whole climate where everything is haram forbiddenayb shameful. We have a long history as Arabs of being very open on sexual matters within the context of Islam. My biggest hope is that we can reclaim the spirit of our ancestors, for whom sex was not just a problem but also a pleasure. If we can reclaim that spirit, a lot of the battle will have been won. That will set us on a good path to deal with many other issues in the generation to come.
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Given the social taboos, Shereen El Feki thought she might struggle to encourage women across the region to speak candidly about their sex lives. She was wrong. And it was not just a pleasure for men, but also for women Advert. Help us produce more like this Patreon is a platform that enables us to offer more to our readership. X New Internationalist is a lifeline for activists, campaigners and readers who value independent journalism. Related Articles.
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