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Sexual taboo in the Middle East

Young women in many cultures in the developing world still face challenges that result to their marginalization. The problem is more prevalent with many cultures of the Middle East especially those that profess Muslim faith. As a result, women are the most widely affected by problems such as war, rape, and poor health, low level of education or literacy and disease. Similarly, the high incidences of polygamy, cultural pressure, and violence have diminished the voice of young girls when it comes to negotiating for a good and safe reproductive health. On the face value, the Middle East is known for its high preference of family values, as well as conservative and paternalistic culture. This is usually a cliché that masks the real situation in the region.[citation needed] The Middle Eastern culture perpetuates many norms that hinder young people especially women from accessing information on sex and reproductive health.

There is a wide gap in sexual and reproductive health development for young women in Middle East. The gap widens as the policymakers and media plays remain ignorant of the dangers of not talking about sex and how sexual health plays into the entire healthcare system. It is noteworthy that professional development for media professional, political and public good will and the alignment of policy, research, and media practice are vital to change the current discourse. Breaking sexual debate taboos and allowing women access to reproductive health education is freedom in its own right.


Media and sexual educationEdit

The available information in the media reveals that children and teenagers are often considered to be separate from the larger community. In such patriarchal societies gender bias is common and women are mostly at a disadvantage because they are voiceless even when it concerns matters of their bodies. Consequentially, there is a wide gap that remains unattended when it comes to fund allocation for education, health, social services and the media that offers a voice to the marginalized women.

Media literacyEdit

It is paramount to look at sexual and reproductive education challenges using a single service delivery system as opposed to the current disposition of no vision at all. Among the numerous problems dogging media literacy in Middle East are reproductive health and sexual health issues (Saleh, 2010).[1] The twist in the tale is that premarital sex is largely prohibited while media coverage of such issues as sexual and reproductive health is considered taboo. This indicates a society characterized by self-denial and hypocrisy because people know and even think that sexual reproduction health is crucial but nobody wants to confront it (Saleh, 2009).[2]

Factors reinforcing sexual taboosEdit

The current predicament stems from the persistence of sexual taboos owing to concurrent factors such as, little knowledge of life-span mechanics, divergent public and political good will, marginal development of media trainers, disconnect between research, practice, and policy in media development (Roundi-Fahmi, & Ashford, 2008).[3]

Political and public goodwillEdit

There is a wide agreement among activists and intellectuals on the non-existence of professional development on crucial fields such as health care and media. It is therefore commonplace to find these professionals lacking the knowhow in terms of strategies or tactics that could be used to reach out to the young people especially women who need to learn more about their sexual health and reproduction. Another cause of disconnect is that many professionals are afraid of speaking taboo topics not to upset the system. Additionally, there is also the lack of sufficient health professionals as well as lack of interest among the professionals to employee the limits resources to gain or develop modern tactics

Policy research and practiceEdit

Disconnect between policy, research, and practice is detrimental to sexual and health reproduction in Middle East. Usually, the official policies in Middle East do less than combat the underlying sexual taboo (Saleh, 2010).[4] Additionally, the policy makers focus on the issue adopting diagnostic approaches instead of providing prescriptive approaches that could help solve the problem once and for all. Sadly, the media in Middle East has also adopted the behaviour from the political class where they are reluctant to break the taboos.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Saleh, I., (2009). Media Literacy in MENA: Moving Beyond the Vicious Cycle of Oxymora, Mapping World Education Policies. Latin American Journal of Media Education. 31(1): 155-176
  2. ^ Saleh, I., (2009). Media Literacy in MENA: Moving Beyond the Vicious Cycle of Oxymora, Mapping World Education Policies. Latin American Journal of Media Education. 31(1): 155-176 .
  3. ^ Roundi-Fahmi, F. & Ashford, L., (2008). Sexual and Reproductive Health in the Middle East and North Africa. A guide for Reporters. Ford Foundation Office. Population Reference Bureau. 37-54
  4. ^ Saleh, l., (2010). Media Education in the Middle East & North Africa: Dancing naked in a Swamp of Coercive Societies. International Association for Media & Communication research (IACMR), Braga, Portugal.