How technology helps

There are a number of initiatives that involve websites and Facebook pages to encourage young people in the Arab region to ask questions, and provide them with reliable answers, on sexual and reproductive health; for one of the more extensive, see Muntada Jensenaya.

Another innovative approach comes from Morocco, called B’illa Haraj – “Without Awkwardness”. It’s a website, and mobile texting service, where young people can send in questions about which are answered by return message, and also tackled in a weekly radio show hosted by Abdessamad Benalla, a hip young sexologist, and his female counterpart. The duo tackle a range of topics every session, including abortion, sexual harassment, sexual disorders and STIs. And they go out of their way to cater to LGBT youth – a novelty in the region. The programme has proved quite successful, receiving more than 8,000 emails and 15,000 calls since it started in 2011. The hope is to roll out a similar service in other Arab countries, starting with Egypt – provided funding is forthcoming, that is.