Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Sexuality of Tunisian Women: Involvement of Religion & Culture

Culture and religion carry several prohibitions and taboos, especially in the Arab-Muslim societies, and are therefore involved in the sexual behavior and its perception, particularly that of women.

To assess the married population's knowledge and opinion about female sexuality, and to estimate the impacts of religious and cultural factors on women's life experience and sexual practice in the Tunisian society.

Our study is in an inquiry. We targeted 55 men and 55 women agreeing to participate in the study. They responded to an anonymous self-administered questionnaire comprising 18 items related to the influence of religion and culture on female sexuality. Among these items, some were binary responses (yes or no) assessing knowledge about female sexuality in the Tunisian religious and cultural context; 8 others explored the opinions of participants about female sexuality. Statistical analysis was performed using SPSS software (15th version). Pearson's chi-square test and Fisher's exact association test were used for comparative study (P<0.05).

The rate of participants who did not manage to reach the threshold of 50% of responses compliant with religious precepts and morals in the Tunisian context was 48.19%. According to 61.8% of participants, the woman should consider sex as a religious duty, and according to 79.1%, she always ought to have sex with her husband even when she did not wish to. This assertion was more frequently reported by women (P<0.001). Among the participants, 35.5% did not approve of the idea that women had the right to reach sexual pleasure, like men. Men recognized this right less often than women did (P<0.001). With reference to social morals, 43.6% of participants thought that the woman should always remain passive when having sex. This opinion was more common to women (P<0.001). There were 71.8% who thought that premature ejaculation was not a limiting factor for female pleasure. Virginity was considered by 63.6% of respondents as a feminine virtue to preserve. This response was statistically more frequent among males (P<0.001). For 55.5%, in addition to sodomy, a man could not afford all the sexual practices with his wife. This response was significantly more frequent in males (P<0.001). Regarding the subjective perception of female sexuality, the percentage of those who thought that women might simulate orgasm was 70.9%. Women thought more frequently than men that such a behavior could be justified to avoid hurting the man's pride (P<0.001).

The experience of sexuality within the Tunisian population is hampered by the prohibitions related to religion and culture, at least in some of its aspects. The reasons for that may be the ignorance of religious texts or their misinterpretation and the biased cultural transmission not followed by questioning or seeking deeper knowledge. The introduction of sex education in school programs could play a crucial role in the fight against the obstacles surrounding sexuality, in order to promote the welfare of woman, and thereby, that of the couple and the family.

Purchase full article at:

  • 1Service de psychiatrie « C », faculté de médecine de Sfax, université de Sfax, CHU Hédi-Chaker, route El Aïn km 1, 3029 Sfax, Tunisie. Electronic address:
  • 2Service de psychiatrie « B », faculté de médecine de Sfax, université de Sfax, CHU Hédi-Chaker, Sfax, Tunisie.
  • 3Service de psychiatrie « C », faculté de médecine de Sfax, université de Sfax, CHU Hédi-Chaker, route El Aïn km 1, 3029 Sfax, Tunisie.
  •  2015 Apr;41(2):144-50. doi: 10.1016/j.encep.2013.10.006. Epub 2014 Feb 7. 

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