A Saudi academic has called for teaching sex education to students in schools as part of the syllabuses for Islamic culture, sociology and psychology, claiming around half of divorces in the Kingdom was because of sexual issues between couples.
Mohammed Al-Saif, professor of sociology at Qassim University, told Al-Hayat newspaper that sexual problems were the main cause of the rising rate of divorces and crimes.
"Most sociologists and researchers deliberately avoid mentioning sex as a main cause for divorce and focus, instead, on other reasons," he said.
He added about 40 percent of the husbands have sexual issues with their wives.
Al-Saif called for teaching sex education in school syllabuses and said books containing information and scientific facts about the topic should be distributed among boys and girls in each family.
"Male and female students in general education, universities and technical colleges should be provided with books on sex, marriage and love," he said.
Al-Saif said books on sex education should be made part of a comprehensive strategy to inculcate ethical values in society.
"About 50 percent of divorce cases are due to sexual issues while the remainder are caused by the wrong choice of partner," he said.
Discussing why people keep quiet on sexual problems, he said the reason was social stigmas.
"Many family affairs researchers do not want to delve in these matters because they believe they are personal," he said.
Al-Saif said researchers and sociologists prefer to talk about the obvious causes of divorce such as the husband not giving money to his wife, family interference, domestic violence rather than dealing with the main reasons, which he said are often of a sexual nature.
He recalled that he asked a student to write down the causes of her divorce and she wrote a 500-page essay that ended with her saying that sex was the single main reason.
Al-Saif called for teaching sex education to students aged 10 to 30.
He said 10-year-old students should be taught the concept of passion and its significance in life because they would not be able to understand all matters concerning sex.
He said: "Some Saudi families abstain from talking openly about sexual issues because of their private nature.
“This stereotype should, however, be changed.”
He said many families usually promote the importance of manhood for their sons instead of teaching them how to respect their women partners when they grow up.
Al-Saif, on the other hand, noted that so-called crimes of an “ethical nature”, relating to illegal seclusion and adultery, are the top types of crimes committed in the Kingdom, according to statistics from the Ministry of Interior.
He said he spent three years working for prisons and met a number of men and women prisoners, the majority of whom were locked in for such offenses.
This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 23, 2014.