Understanding the Sexuality and Sexual Health of Muslim Young People in Canada and Other Western Countries: A Scoping Review of Research Literature

By Wong, Josephine Pui-Hing; Macpherson, Fraser et al. | The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, April 2017 | Go to article overview

Understanding the Sexuality and Sexual Health of Muslim Young People in Canada and Other Western Countries: A Scoping Review of Research Literature


Wong, Josephine Pui-Hing, Macpherson, Fraser, Vahabi, Mandana, Li, Alan, The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality


Muslim communities comprise one of the fastest growing populations in Canada and other Western countries. Healthcare providers and educators point to the lack of relevant and inclusive sexual health information as a major barrier in promoting Muslim young people's sexual health. Since evidence-based knowledge is critical to the development of relevant sexual health resources, we undertook a scoping review of primary and secondary research literature on sexuality and sexual health of Muslim young people. For the purpose of identifying relevant literature, we include studies of youth and young adults aged 12 to 30. We searched nine electronic databases encompassing multiple disciplines to identify recent peer-reviewed journal articles and grey literature published in English between 2005 and 2015. The search yielded 1187 articles; 306 duplicated articles were removed; 859 did not meet the inclusion criteria of Muslim young people and sexuality or sexual health; and a total of 22 articles were included in this review. This paper reports on the major themes identified through the review: (1) sexual health knowledge and perspectives on sex education; (2) socialization and conflicting values about sexuality; (3) gender, risks and sexual practices; and (4) sexual health information and service needs. We conclude that the lack of research on sexuality and sexual health of Muslim young people poses a challenge for policy-makers, service providers, sex educators and other stakeholders to gain sufficient understanding to guide the development of effective and inclusive sexual health programming for Muslim young people in Canada and other Western countries.

KEYWORDS: Muslim youth, sexuality, sexual health, pre-marital sex, values and conflicts, scoping review

INTRODUCTION

Canada's population has become increasingly diverse since 1962 when exclusionary immigration policies were modified to admit immigrants from countries beyond the United Kingdom and other European countries (Government of Canada, 2006). The 2011 Canadian National Household Survey (NHS) indicated that more than 6.2 million people or 19.1% of Canada's total population identified themselves as belonging to a visible minority group (Statistics Canada, 2013). The NHS data also showed increased religious diversity. In 2011, two-thirds of Canadian adults aged 15 and over reported affiliation with a Christian religion, one-quarter reported no religious affiliation, while 7.2% identified themselves as Muslim, Hindu, Sikh, or Buddhist, with Muslims making up the largest group. There were over one million Muslims in Canada in 2011 (Statistics Canada, 2013). The Muslim population in Canada is expected to triple over the next 20 years, with the majority coming from India, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt and Arab countries. Approximately 73% of Canadian Muslims live in Ontario (Statistics Canada, 2013).

Canadian Muslims tend to be younger than other ethnoracial groups with an average age of 28.9 (Statistics Canada, 2013). They are also diverse - some are descendants of early settlers from the late 1800s and some are first and second generation immigrants from different geographic regions (e.g., Africa, South Asia, Middle East, Europe) with distinct cultural practices and political perspectives (Hamdani, 2015). Statistics Canada projects that by 2031 the population of Canadian Muslims will reach 2.5 million or 6% of the Canada's total population (Malenfant, Lebel, & Martel, 2010).

Although Muslim communities comprise one of the fastest growing populations in Canada, research on the sexual health of Canadian Muslim youth and young adults remains limited. Healthcare providers and educators point to the lack of relevant and inclusive sexual health information as a major barrier in promoting Muslim young people's sexual health (Flicker et al., 2009). Discourses about Canadian Muslims tend to be generated by the media and not based on research evidence. …

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