South Asian Women Ranked #1 in Breast Cancer: Why sexual health needs to be talked about
By: Monique Gill
A recent Ontario study confirms that South Asian women lead in the number of breast cancer
cases that have progressed to stages 4 & 5 (The Canadian Press). By contrast, Chinese
women lead in the number of cases that have been successfully detected and prevented.
Researchers suggest this is most likely due to the proactive role the Chinese community takes
in discussing sexual health. By contrast, researchers believe the high number of South Asian
women diagnosed in late stages of breast cancer is due to the lack of education within the
Why is it a taboo to talk about sexual health within the South Asian community?
South Asian women are strongly discouraged by our communities and each other from
exploring our sexualities and by extension, inquiring about sexual health. Often times, even
topics that minimally revolve around sexuality are marked as inaccessible.Female virginity is
traditionally seen as a virtue upheld in South Asian culture and sadly many women hesitate to
ask questions about their sexual health for fear of being seen as sexually active (whether they
are or aren’t) which is inherently linked to cultural taboo and character defamation.
Discussing sexual health with South Asian women doesn’t necessarily mean promoting sexual
activity, instead it promotes healthy lifestyles and provides women with information to make
educated choices. We need to move past the idea of sexual topics being adulterated by being
spoken about with shame and secrecy and as a community be open to discussing and providing
sexual health awareness for all South Asian women.
Is putting effort into upholding stigma around sexual activities worth risking the lives of our
women? Sexual education is a must for everyone in South Asian communities, regardless of
gender. We cannot afford to let deliberate ignorance take the lives of any more South Asian