Sexual Health

Close knit communities: no sex before marriage

Some young people have problems when trying to access sexual health services because they come from close knit communities where young people are not expected to have sex before marriage.

Issues such as contraception or sexual health can't be discussed with parents or in the community. This can be a serious handicap for young people who, as one man puts it 'don't know nothing'.

Getting to family planning services can be particularly hard if people are trying to avoid being seen. Mothers and their friends could be the biggest barrier to visiting the GP - one woman said she was always 'looking over her shoulder' to see if she'd been seen by someone she knew. A solution for some of those we interviewed was to attend services in another area. Some though felt strongly that they had a right to get confidential contraceptive advice and were determined not to be deterred by disapproving parents.

Some of those interviewed preferred not to have a GP from their own ethnic community, fearing that they would disclose health problems to their parents.

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One solution is to provide services that are more discreet and geared to young people, particularly teenagers. Some services already exist and that young people get to know about them through 'word of mouth'. Changes happen gradually - South Asian parents may allow girls to study or work and to choose their husbands, but sex and sexuality remain an obstacle. Some young people think that their own generation will do things differently. Another thought that sex is often associated with guilt in British society.

Last reviewed January 2016.

Last updated August 2012.

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