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Sexual Health among Young Somali Women in Sweden: Living with Conflicting Culturally Determined Sexual Ideologies

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  • Social Sciences
  • Linguistics


Young Somali women in Sweden are affected by two conflicting ideologies on sexuality: on the one hand, the traditional values demanding chastity and modesty in women and, on the other hand, the public sexual ideology in Sweden, emphasising sexual liberty and the dismissal of sexual taboos. In addition, they have to deal with national campaigns condemning “female genital mutilation”. Some of these young women arrived in Sweden already circumcised. The public message to them is that they are “mutilated” and, consequently, deprived of their ability to enjoy sex. A planned project, Sexual Health among Young Somali Women in Sweden, aims at a deeper understanding of the sexual experiences among older Somali women in Sweden, and intends to map the internal discourse in this field. The study also intends to find methods of transferring a positive self-image of sexuality, prevalent among older Somali women, to the younger women.1 Discussing sexual matters is traditionally taboo among Somalis. Even if this situation is changing in exile, many young Swedish Somali women have to make their sexual débuts with only limited knowledge about the possibilities of their own sexuality.

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