Myanmar youth: Sex before or after marriage?
Why premarital sex?
It is a serious question for young people in Myanmar when they should initiate sex; pre-marriage or post-marriage. Sex before marriage is prohibited in religious beliefs and social norms in Myanmar. However, premarital sex is not too easy for the youth of Myanmar to avoid as youth from other Asian countries.
Meaning of Youth
Youth is defined as people aged from 10th to 25th. It is a period of changes in physical, emotional, sexual and social things in life. It starts with puberty and ends in marriage or single. Therefore, it is an appropriate period to set foundations for healthy adult life. Surprisingly, the brain development for the area of emotional process grows in early youth period, though the area of decision making becomes fully mature in late youth period. It brings the vulnerability to youth; taking challenges and risk behaviors with less concerns.
What is Myanmar youth supposed to be?
There are many restrictions in Myanmar youth limited by religious beliefs and social norms. People in Myanmar are religiously believed in Five precepts: to avoid 1) killing others 2) lying others 3) stealing others’ properties 4) drinking alcohol and substances, and 5) having sex with the girl who is under the family’s protection. The social norms also prescribe dos and don’ts which sweep away the reality of people’s lived experiences. Youth are judged by the norms which are accepted by the community as the right things. One of the norms is to preserve the virginity until marriage, regardless of the sex desire in young people.
What is happening in the real life of Myanmar youth?
The study conducted in Myanmar in 2010 found that ten percent of the youth enjoyed the premarital sex. The participants were medical students and youth from the community. Though the rate of premarital sex in Myanmar medical students were expected to be humble, it was found to be as similar as the youth from the community. It was more common in those who had close friend with premarital sex experience. Not only in the general youth, but also poor sub-urban youth showed similar trend, 40% of the male participants and 28% of female participants had positive attitude of premarital sex. The social and economic vulnerable youth of Myanmar also reported they started sex as early as 10 years old (more common in 16-20 years old), and if it resulted in unwanted pregnancy, they eloped and married.
What about other Asian countries?
The tension between religious beliefs, social norms and real life practices related to premarital sex happens not only in Myanmar but also youth from other Asian countries. For instance, forty percent of the university students from Nepal reported premarital sex despite of the religious ban. The ones who have liberal thoughts about virginity and those who have friends with premarital sex experience were more likely to commit it. The findings were pretty similar to those from Myanmar. It can be assumed that the dilemma of premarital sex is a stressful issue for youth from the counties with religious restrictions.
The researchers recommended to provide reproductive health education for the negotiation skills and sexual abstinence. Is it a solution?
Watch- Indian Girls Openly Talk about “Sex Before Marriage”