They plan to move in together without their parents finding out."Whenever you have a relationship here you have to take risks, and this is the risk I'm taking," she says.Approximately one woman a month comes to her clinic with complications resulting from a backstreet termination, she says.Dr Khofash is certain that the number of abortions is increasing: "All gynaecologists know this, but we don't know how much it is increasing by." 'Not widespread' But Dr Sahar Tawila of Cairo University, who co-ordinated one of the most comprehensive studies ever of young people in Egypt, believes the prevalence of sex before marriage has been dramatically overblown in the Egyptian media. Sexual relationships do exist, but they should be put in proportion." In the 2001 nationwide study, 21% of young men with higher education said they knew someone who had had pre-marital sex - and this dropped to 1.4% among the uneducated.Instead I would like to point out what I think is somewhat of a mistake in this article.
If she has sex with him, she explains, she may end up being forced to marry him, which she is not yet sure she wants to do. Ashraf, 26, says he has been pushing her towards intimacy: "I just have to stop at a point when I am sure she will refuse to sleep with me - that means she is a good girl." Many more young women say they plan to stay virgins until they marry.
One of my best friends told me he made love with his girlfriend and then said 'I won't ever marry her - she's not a virgin'," one 19-year-old female student said.
Illegal operation This pressure drives the demand for hymen reconstruction operations, which can even involve stitching a small capsule of red fluid into the vagina to ensure wedding night "bleeding".
For those who would like to, there are still many barriers.
Mona, 27, was with her boyfriend for two years: "We didn't have full sex. If it was easier, yes, I think I would have liked to. I felt guilty about what we did." And many others simply believe it is wrong, like Cairo University student Mohammed Esmat, 20: "I'm a Muslim and in Islam sex before marriage is forbidden, so I am against it." Some names have been changed to protect the identities of interviewees. How do young men and women get to know other in your country? The following comments reflect the balance of views received: I did not want to comment about my own experiences.
Gynaecologist Rima Khofash works among both rich and poor in Cairo and estimates that about 50% of young people have pre-marital sex.