The sexual and reproductive health of young people in the Arab countries and Iran

Reprod Health Matters. 2005 May;13(25):49-59. doi: 10.1016/s0968-8080(05)25181-9.


This article reviews the sexual and reproductive health situation of young people aged 10-24 in the Arab states and Iran, based on published and unpublished literature and interviews with 51 key informants working mostly in NGOs and international agencies in the region. There are few national government programmes addressing young people's sexual and reproductive health, with the exceptions of Tunisia and Iran, and a lack of population-based data to guide such programmes. Although the strong emphasis on the integrity and strength of the family unit has a protective effect, young people lack access to information. Education curricula that include these topics are rare and where they do exist, relevant sections are frequently skipped over by teachers, who are unprepared. Health service providers neither recognise the needs of this age group nor make young people welcome, particularly those who are unmarried. Increased education and employment mean the age at marriage is rising, but unprotected forms of marriage are also reported. Taboos surrounding discussion of sexuality remain a key constraint, and data on unwanted pregnancy and abortion, violence against women, and STIs/HIV/AIDS are limited. Building on NGO models and existing efforts, there is a need for the development of national programmes to support the well-being of young people in this region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arabs*
  • Child
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Iran
  • Male
  • Middle East
  • Reproductive Medicine*
  • Sex Education