Chapter 4: Facts of Life

“Conventional wisdom holds that if you’re buying condoms, you must be having sex outside of marriage, and that is haram [forbidden]— a further deterrent to purchasers. “Please, God, split the earth in two and drop me in and close it up right away,” one twenty-something Egyptian condom marketer laughed, recalling the first time he bought condoms in a Cairo pharmacy and met with the pharmacist’s withering glance. Ironically, most men don’t appear to be using condoms for zina [sex outside of marriage] either. Anywhere the question has been asked—Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, for example— survey findings are much the same: Arab men (and presumably women too, despite their reticence) are having sex outside of marriage, and when they do, condoms are generally not part of the program.”


“Facts of Life” looks at the challenges of providing young people across the Arab region with the information and tools to lead happy, healthy sexual lives. This chapter explores the minefield of sex education, contraception, abortion and by the far the worst-case-scenario for most families, unwed motherhood. This chapter is as much about solutions as it is problems, travelling across the region, from Morocco to Qatar, to see how people on the ground are working with the grain of religion and tradition to address these issues.


Masturbation (n1)

Sexual education

Censoring and censuring, round two (see also Chapter 3)



Adoption in Islam (n54)