Pre-marital sex among different cultures
Sexual behavior of men and women not only reflects personal needs and desires, but the values of the society around them. In more open societies, sex is celebrated as something healthy and enjoyable. It is as much part of the culture as food and art. In repressive societies, sex is deplored and considered shameful.
In terms of pre-marital sex, the theory of cultural relativism can be applied. This theory focuses on the idea that moral issues are interpreted differently by different cultures and societies and that there is no universal standard of judgment that applies to everyone.
There are certain religions that forbid premarital sex, applying certain moral codes that restrict sexual activity before marriage. Catholicism for example teaches that sex outside of marriage contradicts the bond between God and humanity that marriage sanctifies. Some religions are less tolerant of premarital sex among women and men and some religions actually encourage premarital sex, for example the Truk of Oceana believe that a women needs to be sexually active in order to menstruate properly.
Despite religious attitudes towards premarital sex, most Western cultures have seen premarital sex become part of the norm. Depictions of premarital sex in aspects of popular culture, such as film, art and literature reflect its proliferation among men and women who are not married and the fact that these days it is generally socially acceptable to engage in sexual intercourse before marriage. There are however some cultures that take the act of premarital sex very seriously and the consequences are very harsh. In the Indonesian island of Java, a men and a women are married on the spot if they are caught having premarital sex. The punishment for premarital sex among some cultures can be as serious as death. The Kenuzi Nubians of Egypt will have a woman killed by her closest relatives if she is caught having premarital sex. Alternatively, some cultures will only permit marriage once it is demonstrated that the woman is fertile, meaning that she will have to be pregnant at least once before being permitted to marry.
Attitudes towards premarital sex reflect the way sex and attitudes towards sex are viewed among different individuals and groups depending on the society around them.