Marriage - Sex and Procreation

Sex and Procreation

See also: Chastity and Adultery

Many of the world's major religions look with disfavor on sexual relations outside of marriage. Many non-secular states sanction criminal penalties for sexual intercourse before marriage. Sexual relations by a married person with someone other than his/her spouse is known as adultery and is also frequently disapproved by the major world religions (some calling it a sin). Adultery is considered in many jurisdictions to be a crime and grounds for divorce.

In some countries, such as Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iran, Kuwait, Maldives, Morocco, Oman, Mauritania, United Arab Emirates, Sudan, Yemen, any form of sexual activity outside marriage is illegal.

Historically, and still in many countries, children born outside of marriage suffered severe social stigma and discrimination. In England and Wales, such children were known as bastards and whoresons.

In the European countries, as well as in Latin America, the situation has changed. Children born outside marriage have become more common, and in some countries, the majority. Recent data from Latin America showed figures for non-marital childbearing to be 74% for Colombia, 69% for Peru, 68% for Chile, 58% for Argentina, 55% for Mexico In Europe, in 2011, the highest levels of extramarital births were found in Northern Europe and some countries of the former Communist Bloc: Iceland (65%), Estonia (59.7%), Slovenia (56.8%), Bulgaria (56.1%), Norway (55%), Sweden (54.2%). Data from 2009 showed that in that year, in the European Union, 37.3% of births were to unmarried women.

In the United States, births outside marriage are not as socially accepted as in other Western countries, but their prevalence has increased nevertheless. Social views have become more accepting. In 1992, the National Center for Health Statistics reported that 30.1% of births were to unmarried women. In 2010, 40.8% of births were to unmarried women.

Some married couples choose not to have children and so remain childfree. Others are unable to have children because of infertility or other factors preventing conception or the bearing of children. In some cultures, marriage imposes an obligation on women to bear children. In northern Ghana, for example, payment of bridewealth signifies a woman's requirement to bear children, and women using birth control face substantial threats of physical abuse and reprisals.

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