Youth and Sex in Sri Lanka: Unveiling Patterns, Practices, and Influential Factors

Youth and Sex in Sri Lanka: Unveiling Patterns, Practices, and Influential Factors

Sri Lankan youth face a heightened risk of engaging in casual and unprotected sexual activities even before marriage. Recognizing the potential social and health consequences of such behaviour, this study aimed to characterize the sexual conduct and contraceptive practices among unmarried youth in Sri Lanka. Additionally, the research sought to identify factors associated with these behaviours.

A study published in 2022 by Malith Kumarasingha and others revealed that a higher percentage of girls (35%) than boys (26%) were involved in unprotected sexual intercourse. Among sexually active unmarried youth under 20 years old, 10% engaged in intercourse with unknown partners. Notably, unmarried Tamil and estate sector youth exhibited significantly lower chances of sexual activity compared to Sinhala and urban counterparts. Moreover, contraceptive use varied among different sectors, with rural (69.5%) and urban (87.3%) youth more likely to use contraceptives during intercourse compared to those in the Estate sector (51.1%).

The study revealed that a  significant portion of youth engage in risky sexual behaviour, including unprotected intercourse, before marriage, posing potential social and health repercussions. Interventions targeting this issue are imperative. Key findings include variations in sexual activity and contraceptive use among different ethnic groups and sectors in Sri Lanka. Notably, emergency contraceptive pills gained popularity among never-married female youth.

The study emphasizes the need for targeted interventions to reduce barriers to contraceptive access, especially for younger youth in Sri Lanka, to prevent unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV. Specific attention is warranted for Tamil ethnic groups and estate sector youth populations in Sri Lanka.
Current Scenario::

Lanka News Line spoke to many innkeepers, and they confirmed that many young couples frequently come into inns that provide rooms for sexual activity, and many of them use contraceptives.

* Many young couples come to rent rooms; earlier, we charged 4,000 rupees for  a short-term let-out and now we are charging 6.000 rupees and the demand is increasing -An Inn manager in Kotahena 

* I feel sorry for the young boys and girls who come here; they will not risk coming here if they have a better place to go and fortunately, the police have stopped raiding. An inn manager from Moratuwa

* Most room-letting services provide condoms  to the young couples who come there; we also do the same

* We have couples coming to our inn for five or six years regularly, and they say that due to the current economic situation, they can’t afford to get married. (Innkeeper from Gampaha)

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