The conservative culture dooms sex before marriage as illegal and immoral but refuses to prepare people even for “acceptable” sexual relationships. The lack of education about this crucial aspect of human life has backfired in the Islamic Republic of Iran.
Since authorities do not educate citizens and parents act as if their children are asexual, adolescents’ ignorant sources of information remain pornography, unreliable websites, or each other.
The Iranian youth believe their sexuality is either demonized or denied by their parents, families, and teachers. Confused, uninformed, and rebellious, the youth today tend to engage in dangerous behavior such as promiscuity and unprotected sexual relationships.
Dr. Arash Alaei, clinical associate professor at the State University of New York, Department of Health Policy, Management and Behavior spoke to K24.
Originally from Kermanshah, Rojhalat (Iranian Kurdistan), Dr. Alaei is internationally recognized for his extensive work on health and human rights. He says the current trends of promiscuity is an overreaction to a society that has turned natural instincts and overall curiosities into an illegitimate topic.
Dr. Alaei argues children should become familiar with their bodies before puberty so that certain physical changes will not become a source of shame, threat, or bewilderment.
“Why can a child talk about their teeth or a broken bone but not about their natural human tendencies?” pondered Dr. Alaei.
To better understand the youth perspective, K24 spoke to a group of Kurds in Rojhalat about their sexual life.
21-year-old Sherko from Sina (Sanandaj) wrote in an online messaging system: “I love sex. I hate relationships. I don’t care about virginity. I hate [the idea of] getting married. But seriously, if we don’t even have sex, how are we going to release all the pressure we have?” referring to the lack of job prospects as well as the added pressures of living a secular life in a religious state.
“Who cares about virginity? That’s so yesterday. I’m not the type of ordinary girls [sic]...I feel so casual about sex. I don’t see any benefit in getting married,” wrote Taranom, 19, from Kermanshah.
Farnaz, 22, said men over the age of 25 are ambivalent about sex. “A man under 25 expects you to be modern and open-minded…[or] they will break up with you. But if the boy is over 25, you have to play a different game to earn his trust. These two groups of young men have us stuck.”
Farnaz said she has traveled to Turkey and Dubai with her boyfriends, but was born into a religious family in the large northwestern town of Mariwan. She now lives with her sister in Tehran.
The majority of the young Kurds who agreed to talk to K24 said they feel casual about having multiple partners, but they scoffed at the idea of using protection.
“AIDS has no correlation with a person’s age or socioeconomic class.” Dr. Alaei said. “Not using protection—common throughout Iran and not just limited to the youth—puts people in grave danger of contracting Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs) or unwanted pregnancies in a country where abortion is illegal except under severe medical conditions.”
“It’s true that my generation can explore their sexuality more openly than the previous generation, but what we miss is love. I mean it’s fun to try different partners, but the problem is that nobody can trust anybody else enough to give them their heart or, if they do, they are bound to defeat,” said Ashkan, 25, from Sina.
“I think the majority, if not the entire population, of the youth today have failed in love. Maybe that’s what we are searching. Maybe that’s why we are never satisfied,” he said.
For as long as our society refuses to create a constructive culture to take the youth seriously, the young generation will continue to go to the extreme to experiment what their society strongly frowns upon. As a result, they unwittingly cause physical and psychological harm to themselves and their partners. They remain lost in lust and hungry for love.