An exploratory study of Muslim adolescents' views on sexuality: Implications for sex education and prevention

C.M.R. Smerecnik, H. Schaalma, G. Kok*, S. Meijer, J. Poelman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

37 Citations (Web of Science)


Background: This paper describes the results of an exploratory qualitative study on Muslim adolescents' views on sexuality in the Netherlands.

Methods: Data were gathered from an Internet forum on which 44 Muslim and 33 non-Muslim adolescents discussed sexuality as it relates to Islam. These discussions were subsequently analyzed for content using Nvivo 2.0.

Results: Our analysis revealed several issues that are relevant for the design of future sex education programs targeting Muslim youth. Apart from some expected outcomes regarding, for example, taboos on sexuality, sex outside marriage, abortion, homosexuality and conservative gender roles, our analyses showed that in cases of disputes 1) discussions were polarized, 2) opponents used the same Qur'anic passages to support their views, and 3) the authority of an Imam was questioned when his interpretation of Qur'anic passages was not in line with the views of participants.

Conclusions: Our findings show that current approaches to sex education among Muslim youth are likely to be unsuccessful given the rigidity of sexual norms in Muslim society. In addition, we also identified new barriers to sex education among Muslim youth (e. g. lack of respect for an Imam who opposes a youth's views on sexuality).

Original languageEnglish
Article number533
Pages (from-to)533
Number of pages10
JournalBMC Public Health
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2010


  • HIV
  • MEN

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