In Egypt, a 2004 study of more than 2,300 men—assorted blue-collar workers, truck drivers, civil servants and university students in towns between Alexandria and Cairo—found that while three-fifths of them were aware of condoms and their effectiveness, and more than half said they were available in their neighborhood, only a quarter claimed to know how to use them properly. At best, only a third had ever used a condom or had any intention of doing so. Over a quarter of the surveyed said they had friends who were having sex outside of marriage (before or during, that is)—a indirect way of gauging their own extramarital activity. Over two-fifths of these respondents said “their friends” were getting it on frequently, and two-thirds claimed it was with multiple partners. And yet, more than half of them thought these men never used condoms.
Meanwhile, over in Yemen, a 2002 survey of more than 2,500 people found that almost 20% of men knew of another man having an extra-marital affair. Only around half of those surveyed had heard of male condoms, and only a quarter actually approved of condom promotion, the most frequently mentioned fear being that greater condom availability would encourage fornication. “Socially, we are against this idea of condom use, because you are trying to solve the problem by using its very cause! If AIDS is a result of “illegal” sex behaviours, we [would be] increasing the level of this behaviour by providing condoms. There is no need to open doors that are going to create a lot of problems in the community. With this policy you are calling us to follow the West and forget about our faith, religion and traditions,”said one study participant.
In Syria, a 2006 survey of 2,000 households in Damascus and Aleppo found that of the 10% of men who reported sex with a non-regular partner (ie, not their wives, for the third of this sample who were also married), only two-fifths said they used condoms. (National AIDS Programme, 2005)
Similarly, a 2004 study of more than 1,000 men fetching up at a government hospital in Kuwait for treatment of a sexually-transmitted infection (roughly two-thirds of whom were either Kuwaiti or other Arab nationals) found that more than three-quarters caught their malady from a commercial sex worker, and a fifth from a friend or acquaintance; just under 10% were infected while travelling abroad. Less than 2% of the men had ever used a condom.
In Morocco, a 2007 survey of more than 2,000 mainly unmarried youth aged 15-24 found that of those with sexual experience, more than 40% of the men and three-fifths of the women had never used a condom; only a quarter of men and women surveyed said they used a condom at the time of their sexual debut. Of the sexually-active men, around three-fifths occasionally frequented sex workers, but only a third regularly used condoms. The main reason for not using them, for both men and women, was their partners’ refusal. (Axétudes and Kingdom of Morocco Ministry of Health, 2007)
In Tunisia, a 2009 survey of 1,200 out-of-school youth aged 15-24 found that only around 30% of the sexually active group said they had used condoms from their sexual debut; of those having sex in the past year, three-fifths never bothered with a condom. Of those who did use a condom, less than half the women, but more than 70% of the men were the ones who took the decision to do so. For the majority who didn’t, the main reason for non-use is that it simply did not occur to them, although three-fifths of all those surveyed were aware that condoms could protect against STIs. Unlike Morocco, less than 20% of the women and 5% of the men said they rejected condoms because of their partners’ dislike; less than 10% said they were too embarrassed to ask for them at the pharmacy. (Ben Abdallah and ONFP, 2009)