We at BOMA-TT would like to express our sincere gratitude to those who contributed to the Marriage Quiz which appeared in this column for the past three months. That quiz started out as a simple WhatsApp survey and developed a life of its own! Thanks to those who commented and questioned its contents too, as they gave us clarity into the thoughts and feelings of our people about marriage.
A few weeks ago, BOMA-TT was invited to present a poster at the first Caribbean Congress on Adolescent and Youth Health (CCAYH). The following is an excerpt of that poster which we hope would impact on the decisions of policy-makers in the Caribbean:
“This paper reveals evidence that young people are interested in being taught how to avoid early sexual activity by saving sex for marriage. Chastity is the state or practice of refraining from extramarital, or especially from all, sexual intercourse1. Chastity is also a virtue (like courage or honesty)2. The practice of chastity before marriage trains one for faithfulness within marriage which has practical benefits of lower divorce rates and Sexually Transmitted Infection rates2.
Chastity is currently not a popularised concept among today’s Caribbean youth, however over the past ten years BOMA-TT has been pioneering the ‘Is Love Forever?’ programme for youths and young adults in T&T and noticed evidence that young people do have an interest in this state or practice.
BOMA-TT has couched that chastity allows the young person to approach adulthood in a way that allows them to develop their physical, social, intellectual, emotional and spiritual aspects without the added stresses associated with early sexual activity. This was done by teaching what chastity is and how it can be practically lived out.
BOMA-TT embarked on promoting the virtue of chastity amongst young people as it is in this context that the Billings Ovulation Method® of Natural Fertility Regulation works best for Family Planning purposes later on in life for them. Caribbean adolescents and youth behave in varied ways and this was acknowledged primarily.
In referencing PAHO (1999 & 2000) and Ellis et al (1990), Christine Barrow noted that the majority of Caribbean young people are not sexually active and have decided to postpone initial sexual activity3.
According to Maharaj et al, Caribbean adolescents who engage in high-risk activities (sexual and non-sexual) are affected by their family of origin, environment at home and relationship with parents4. What protects them from high-risk behaviour was noted to be their connectedness to family and school but also their religiosity.
Based on several studies they reviewed, Maharaj et al also noted that adolescent studies in the US were applicable to our Caribbean young people. In a 2003 survey of US teenagers, two-thirds of them wished they had delayed sexual activity (Girls–77 per cent, Boys–60 per cent)5. Other US studies also revealed that when a man is married in a virginal state, his divorce rate is 63 per cent lower than a non-virgin. For women, it is 76 per cent lower6.
The younger a female is when she initiates sexual activity, the more likely she is to experience multiple sexual partners, STIs, out-of-wedlock pregnancies, depression, abortion and poverty7.
Divorce rates are lowest with zero or one premarital partner8. It was, thus, with this wealth of information along with body awareness education from the Billings Ovulation Method® that the ‘Is Love Forever?’ programme was developed.
Young people have shown their appreciation for chastity education where the main idea is that they save sex for marriage. Further research is urgently needed to prove the effectiveness of chastity education amongst Caribbean youth and adolescents. The ripple effect of this education on the STI, poverty, teenage pregnancy and divorce rates can be phenomenal with an elevation of respect, discipline and self-control that will inevitably bring greater harmony amongst our people.”
1 Oxford Dictionary online 2019.
2 Evert, J: Pure Love 2013.
3 Barrow, C: Adolescent Girls, Sexual Culture, Risk and HIV in Barbados. Paper for Salises 8th Annual Conference 2007.
4 Maharaj, R, Nunes, P, Renwick, S: Health risk behaviours among adolescents in the English-speaking Caribbean: A review. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health 2009, 3(1):10.
5 America’s Adults and Teens Sound Off About Teen Pregnancy: An Annual National Survey. National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy 2003, 17.
6 Laumann, EO, Gagnon, JH, Michael, RT, Michaels, S: The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States. 1994, 503.
7 Rector, RE, Johnson, KA, Noyes, LR, Martin, S: The Harmful Effects of Early Sexual Activity and Multiple Sexual Partners Among Women: A Book of Charts. The Heritage Foundation 2003.
8 Wolfinger, NH: Counterintuitive Trends in the Link Between Premarital Sex and Marital Stability. Institute for Family Studies 2016.
Contact BOMA-TT: 384-1659, email: firstname.lastname@example.org, website: www.billingstt.com