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Reproductive Health in Developing Countries: Expanding Dimensions, Building Solutions
TABLE 2-2 Males and Females Who Had Not Had Intercourse at Time of First Marriage/Partnership, Among Ever-Married Men and Women, by Current Age: in percent
Country or City
Rio de Janiero
SOURCE: Adapted from Caraël (1995).
weaker and less strictly enforced than prohibitions against female sexual activity before marriage. Condonement, and even encouragement, of sexual experience by young men affects the reproductive health of both men and women. Table 2-2 shows data from surveys, carried out by the Global Programme on AIDS, on sexual intercourse prior to marriage or partnership among ever-married men and women. Males and females in the Kenya survey and males in the Rio de Janeiro survey were most likely to report sexual activity prior to their first stable union. Thai, Singaporean, and Manila women reported the lowest rates of sexual activity prior to marriage or union.
Quite apart from the gender inequality implied by such differences in sexual norms, in an environment in which adolescent females are denied such activity, adolescent males seeking sexual activity turn to other partners—usually commercial sex workers, as the anthropological and survey evidence from Thailand describes (see, e.g., Thongkrajai et al., 1993) or to older married women, often within the larger extended family (see, e.g., Goparaju, 1994, on India). Because their husbands have often had such sexual contacts, young married women are put at risk of acquiring STDs at a stage in life when they are culturally least able to identify or seek medical or nonmedical help for socially embarrassing conditions such as