Reflections on sex research among young Bedouin in Jordan: risks and limitations

Cult Health Sex. 2012;14(1):101-11. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2011.626871. Epub 2011 Nov 15.


Research about sexuality is characterised by silences and invisibilities. This is particularly evident in some Islamic Arab societies where discussion of sexuality in general is not encouraged and practices such as homosexuality or pre-marital sex are not acknowledged. This creates a barrier to carrying out sex research and also means that much of the research-based knowledge and methodologies developed in a Western setting may have limited applicability. This paper uses research recently carried out among Bedouin young women in Jordan to examine these limitations and the extent to which research approaches and findings from relatively liberal Western cultures are appropriate and relevant. Following a description of the cultural context in which the study took place, the paper identifies potential risks of conducting sex research in this setting and the research limitations related to this risk. Finally, it addresses the question of whether doing sex research has any value given these restrictions.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Arabs
  • Attitude to Health / ethnology*
  • Cultural Characteristics*
  • Female
  • Health Status
  • Heterosexuality / ethnology*
  • Humans
  • Jordan
  • Quality of Life
  • Social Class
  • Social Perception*
  • Stereotyping*
  • Women's Health / ethnology*
  • Young Adult