Virgin before marriage, indispensable or superfluous?
Afro Caribbeans and Africans in the diaspora share their views:
At the dawn of the XXI century, virginity is still a delicate subject. What do Africans and Afro Caribbeans think about this phenomenon? Is virginity before marriage worth the trouble? Pros and cons of virginity before marriage... Traditions, religion and education are the main determining factors to the question of premarital sex and virginity. To find out more, Afrik-news.com met with several people from different horizons to share their views.
Those interviewed by Afrik-news.com range between the ages of 17 and 63 from various socio economic backgrounds. The following are some of their arguments.
Patricia, 29 years, Martinique Banker
I have a story to share. My Cameroonian friend’s cousin was engaged to a born again Christian in Douala. For about two years they courted while preparing for their marriage. But the marriage was taking time and they could not gather the amount of money needed for it. They were not to have sex. This meant that the girl (my friend’s cousin) had to sleep in the sofa, on the floor, or at her parent’s. After two years, she got tired of it all and left. It was frustrating and ridiculous. I think a woman should make her own choices when it concerns her future. You should know that most religions and cultures take women for second class beings. I want to be a first class being. It is a personal decision and I am not going to succumb to sexist social demands.
Edgar, 23 years, Nigerian, student
I come from a country with diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. This means that at the end of the day, the person who considers all these diverse traditions makes a choice... although i must admit that some people are not left with the choice. I think virginity before marriage can save uneducated people from a lot of trouble; like unwanted pregnacies and sexually transmitted diseases. But i think that as long as people can decide what is best for them, when they are old enough, it is their own business. I want to get married when i am thirty five and my girlfriend is one year behind me, agewise. I don’t see how we can both stay without sex until marriage...
Salamata, 29 years, European of Burkinabe descent, journalist
It is above all else a personal choice. I respect the fact that some people chose to preserve themselves for one person in particular. But I also think that it could be very difficult to hold on to such values in our present society. Staying virgin until marriage is not particularly taken as a virtue. In certain families, a woman is expected to remain a virgin until marriage, but I think that it should be a personal choice. Everyone is free to do what they want with their own bodies.
Myriam, 22 years, Moroccan father, French mother. Student
It is a purely individual point of view. Cultural demands play an essential role in the question of virginity before marriage. But it is above all religious. I have often witnessed weddings in Morocco and I can firmly say that Muslim women are oppressed by virginity before marriage. I am fine with this rule as far as men agree to follow the same rules. Do not forget that both sexes are under the same obligation.
Carlos, 35 years, Brazil, Hairdresser
An old virgin is not very well seen from where I come. After marriage, a virgin is unpredictable. She might want to experience other men, and in my part of the world, it is very easy. Religion, which forms the foundation of the Brazilian culture, is not really an issue. We Brazilians separate everyday life from Church demands. In fact, a woman can still get married in church with a big pregnant belly while wearing a white gown. Personally, I don’t see how it is possible to marry a virgin… is your question about sleeping with a virgin before one marries her or staying with a virgin who will remain untouched before her marriage?
Tony, 30 years, Guadeloupe, HR manager
Virginity before marriage? Surprisingly, it is not part of my culture, which is pro-Catholic. It is not a necessity. I’ll go a bit further: Having a child before marriage is not condoned by my grandparents’ generation, but today mentalities have developed. A gainfully employed woman or man may decide to have a child or two if they think they can take care of them. Now to your question, what do I think about virginity before marriage? My question is; what if I die before marriage? What if I am not lucky to get married if I were a woman?
Ibrahim, 25 years, Moroccan, seeking employment
When faced with the right woman, we do not bother with the question of virginity. But for me, if the woman is a virgin, all the better, especially if we want to take the relationship further. Culture, religion and education are very demanding when it comes to the question of virginity.
Sebastian, 38 years, European of Algerian descent, photographer
I think that it is important for a woman not to be a virgin before marriage. A woman who has never had sexual relations in her life before marriage is bound to become curious (...) outside her marriage. I want to marry a woman with a sexual history.
Alan, 30 years, Barbados, IT consultant
Frankly, I’ll be shocked to come across a blast from the past for a wife! Will I marry a virgin? How can I have a relationship with a girl whom I’ll get married to and not have sex with her? What if she is hiding something from me? And what am I supposed to do when she is keeping herself? Go and sleep around? Come on, even my grandmother will laugh at me.
Sady, 29 years, European of Mauritanian descent, flight attendant
I think that it is not as important as they make it seem. It is more of a cultural and educational thing. Culture plays a major role in the importance or banality of virginity before marriage. I also think that virginity is in the head. However stringent the demand, if a person decides not to comply with the rules, very little can be done to stop them. An example is the question of female genital mutilation in certain African cultures to prevent girls from having the urge to have sex… and this does not prevent girls from having sex. I have friends who have undergone this traditional practice and still habour the same sexual urge as those who have not.
Alex, 35 years, Cuban American, Architect
I think it is self torture, on the other hand virgins have no experience at all and once with them when they have discovered sexuality, you are either faced with a woman who is totally dependent on you or one who wants to experience other things. How do I see virginity? I think it served a purpose with Jesus’ mother, and as a Catholic I think it is divine, but that is where it ends, with religion. In real life you don’t really want that.
Nawal, 47 years, European of Algerian descent, salesperson
I chose to remain virgin until marriage. This was due to my religious convictions. I am Muslim and it is important to remain a virgin until marriage. But I really think that it is a personal choice, which in my case was mainly due to the element of religion from a very young age. I was not pressured to remain virgin. I had the choice to leave home at a certain age because my parents who thought I was old enough to decide for myself did not mind.
Boubacar, 23 years, Senegalese, Banker
According to my religion, virginity is a sign of respect towards the person a man or woman decides to marry. But on the other hand, I think that if you feel good in your partner’s company, there is absolutely no need to wait. It is more of a waste of time than anything else. Sexual relations contribute to the longevity of the relationship. I think that in our day and age we can’t wait too long.
Eric, 63 years, European of Central African descent, retired chef
A virgin wife or husband is the most beautiful marriage gift. I think that staying virgin until marriage is a sign of respect to your partner. Saying that a wife or husband has not been soiled by anyone else is wonderful. Although it is religious, I still think that it is a great gesture.
Mariama, 17 years, Malian, High School student
I think that one does not chose the time. If you feel comfortable with the person whom you share your life with there is no reason why you should wait too long before doing it. It is not preconceived. When you are ready, you consciously make the step. But sometimes the step is also taken unconsciously. I think that the place of religion in our generation is not as much as it was in the past.
Rachid, 33 years, Moroccan, department store manager
I don’t think that staying virgin until marriage is really important. Society has evolved and people are not like before. Sex now plays an important role in a relationship. Without sexual relations, a relationship is short-lived. Culture and religion are really not very important issues here in Europe.
Rabia, 19 years, European of Guinean descent, student
I think it is ridiculous to abstain from sex under the pretext of a religion or culture. It is such a profoundly intimate decision and other people should not be made to interfere. There are some young girls who are under enormous pressures from their parents, who want them to remain virgin until their marriage. This only makes them want to have operations done right before marriage to avoid bad scenes. It is sad, really. I support the idea that parents should teach their children to follow their rules, but I also think that children should be left alone when they are old enough to make their own decisions.