In , no woman would speak out about sexual harassment or being raped. Virginity is defined as a piece of anatomy, an intact hymen, so many young people are engaging in alternative forms of sex: We have a long history as Arabs of being very open on sexual matters within the context of Islam. It leads young people into deeply unhealthy behaviours. Sex is one part of that. People have become incredibly conservative, not just Muslim but also Christian and Jewish conservatives.
We have a long history as Arabs of being very open on sexual matters within the context of Islam. The problem is that virginity is defined in this quite superficial way. Roughly two to three per cent of the population engages in same-sex activity. Virginity is defined as a piece of anatomy, an intact hymen, so many young people are engaging in alternative forms of sex: 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. They wrap sex up in religion and use it as a tool of control. That will set us on a good path to deal with many other issues in the generation to come. In , no woman would speak out about sexual harassment or being raped. I met a woman in Morocco who had had a one-night stand. You can access the entire archive of over issues with a digital subscription. 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. Sex is one part of that. 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. Sexual Politics Given the social taboos, Shereen El Feki thought she might struggle to encourage women across the region to speak candidly about their sex lives. The thing she kept saying to me, which was her point of pride, was: We only have oral or anal sex because we want to get married. A lot of arguments have been hijacked by Islamic conservatives. If we can reclaim that spirit, a lot of the battle will have been won. When she went to a doctor, she had absolutely no idea she was pregnant. It leads young people into deeply unhealthy behaviours. And it was not just a pleasure for men, but also for women. Fast forward to , and you find women in Egypt speaking out about their experiences. No way are we going to become pregnant. The problem in the Arab region is the gap between appearance and reality.
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