Al Jazeera: Sexual Disease Prevention and Access to Health Care Failed by Middle Eastern Regions

What Can be done?

It has been an uphill battle with many of the Middle Eastern regions when addressing the unfortunate events of sexual behavior and the consequences alongside engaging in these behaviors outside of a marriage. Countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan, & Saudi Arabia are only a few of the many countries with strict religious views that hinder the works of breaking the stigma of sexual and reproductive behavior. Delegates of Pakistan and Afghanistan proclaim in an interview that it is the fault of the woman if she is assaulted, raped, or catches an STI. Delegate of Afghanistan says “Women face honor killings and social shunning as oppose to men who may only face a fine”. Sexual activities outside of marriages in most of these Middle Eastern regions are highly illegal and punishable by death. Therefore, when it comes to helping individuals who obtain sexual diseases, there is no “help” only punishment especially for women. What does healthcare consist of when STIs are contracted within a marriage? Apparently it’s very limited. Representatives of these regions mainly rely on failed policies that consist of abstinence education and take the approach of “well, if we tell them it’s wrong, maybe they won’t do it in the first place”. Quite frankly, that approach doesn’t work for adolescents who may not understand all of the faucets of sexual behavior. In simpler terms, what conversations are held in order for populations to truly understand and address hormones, sexual development, and understanding what sexual assault or abuse is? Abstinence programs are definitely a great foundation to address a safe avenue of living, but this elementary approach unfortunately does not help the fact that individuals are continuously at risk for developing a disease whether engaging in sexual activities by choice or by force. Delegate of Pakistan in an interview says “contraceptives and other related healthcare assistance is only available to the individuals in a marriage”.  Most would agree that it is unfavorable to deny access to healthcare in regards to sexual diseases. Unfortunately, these regions do not see it the same way. Religious views seemingly are the heart of what can and can’t be done to address the health care needs within many of the Middle Eastern populations. So the question remains, what boundaries need to be pushed for these countries to move past the hindrance of religious based health care? Does this cause for individuals to leave their populations? The future is unforeseeable with these regions when it comes to sexual disease prevention and access for health care for all.

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