Middle East

IES: Bahrain




IndexMiddle East Bahrain


On formal and informal sexual information, McCarthy (1997)[1] stated:


“There is a national curriculum which is taught in the boys and girls schools using the same textbook. The course content offered to IntermediateSchool students is not labelled as sex education. An introduction to human anatomy and physiology is taught to students around the ages of 10 to 12, depending on a student’s school entry age. This basic course is purely an anatomy and physiology approach to sexuality, and male and female informants said they learned about eggs, sperm, menstruation, etc. Family planning is now also covered in this course. There is no discussion of personal relationships or human sexuality, as this is considered haraam. There is little discussion of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as the emphasis is on normal anatomy and physiology”.


“Informants mentioned a variety of informal sources for their early sex education, as most said parental instruction was rare and consisted of “don’t touch it” or “don’t let anyone touch.” Regarding parental instruction, the range of responses included those who said, “I could never talk to my mother/father about that,” “She/he did not encourage us to ask,” “Mother didn’t tell,” and “We didn’t ask mother,” to those whose parents were supportive and “explained when asked,” to parents who approached them first and “gave them books to read,” and/or “explained everything to them.” Some girls were told riding bikes and horses could be harmful, so they should be careful. All informants, men and women, said they discussed sex-related topics with their friends; some did or did not discuss such sex-related matters with their older or younger siblings. All informants likewise said that the media had an influence on their knowledge, including movies (Indian, Arabic, Western), music (Arabic, Western), and books and magazines. Some mentioned how their friends or coworkers, at the time of their engagement, gave them graphic information on “what to do” and “how to do it” ”.


Information on auto-erotic behaviour:


“Informants report that Bahraini children around the ages of 2.5 and 3 begin to touch themselves in the genital region like children around the world. As soon as relatives see this activity beginning, the child is taught this is not socially acceptable, and every time the behavior is seen, the child is admonished verbally not to do it (physical punishment is not used). Bahraini children do not walk around naked and always have clothes on.

All the female informants report that their mothers from a very early age taught them how to sit with their legs together, to sit carefully and to ensure they are covered properly, and how not to sit (not to squat, and “not to let anything show”). Some report that they were taught how to wash their genitals in a proper way, and now they are teaching or taught it to their female children, e.g., with a closed finger and thumb position, and not with their fingers reaching and feeling. The prevalence of this particular washing method is not known. When girls reach the age of 10 to 12, their general play activities become restricted, and all reported their mothers told them their bodies would be changing and that they needed to behave in a careful manner. The concept of virginity and being careful with sharp objects was instilled in them. The incidence or types of autoerotic behaviors in this age group have not been studied”.




“[c]hildren seen touching other children in any suggestive manner are firmly instructed that this behavior is not appropriate. All sexual exploration and sexual rehearsal play, if noted by the parents or relatives, is strongly extolled as forbidden”[2].









Janssen, D. F., Growing Up Sexually. VolumeI. World Reference Atlas. 0.2 ed. 2004. Berlin: Magnus Hirschfeld Archive for Sexology

Last revised: Dec 2004





[1] McCarthy, J. (1997) Bahrain, in Francoeur, R. T. (Ed.) The International Encyclopedia of Sexuality. New York: Continuum, Vol. 1. Quoted from the online edition

[2] Allegedly, “The incidence of child sexual abuse in Bahrain has not been documented in any published reference [and] [p]edophilia has not been studied. […] Bahraini pedophiles paying boys for sex both in Bahrain and abroad are known, and such cases are discussed openly by older members of the local community. Groups of older boys are sometimes involved in rapes of young boys, however this data are not reported”.