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An exploratory study of Muslim adolescents' views on sexuality: Implications for sex education and prevention

DOI: 10.1186/1471-2458-10-533

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Data were gathered from an Internet forum on which 44 Muslim and 33 non-Muslim adolescents discussed sexuality as it relates to Islam. These discussions were subsequently analyzed for content using Nvivo 2.0.Our analysis revealed several issues that are relevant for the design of future sex education programs targeting Muslim youth. Apart from some expected outcomes regarding, for example, taboos on sexuality, sex outside marriage, abortion, homosexuality and conservative gender roles, our analyses showed that in cases of disputes 1) discussions were polarized, 2) opponents used the same Qur'anic passages to support their views, and 3) the authority of an Imam was questioned when his interpretation of Qur'anic passages was not in line with the views of participants.Our findings show that current approaches to sex education among Muslim youth are likely to be unsuccessful given the rigidity of sexual norms in Muslim society. In addition, we also identified new barriers to sex education among Muslim youth (e.g. lack of respect for an Imam who opposes a youth's views on sexuality).The increasing cultural and religious diversity of European societies [1] has established the urgent need for health promotion programs capable of effectively changing adolescents' sexual behavior in a multicultural and multi-religious setting [2,3]. The need for such health programs is further warranted due to the larger prevalence of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) among non-Western immigrants compared with nationals [4,5]. In no other religion or culture is sexuality so closely integrated with religious rules as in Islam [6]. Since health promotion programs are most effective when based on both theoretical notions and empirical evidence [3,7], it is imperative to identify these rules and their influence on the views that Muslim adolescents have on sexuality. Although researchers have examined how Islam influences Muslim adolescents' views on sexuality [e.g., [6,8-10], large gaps sti


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