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Loveship and sex: exploring the formation of pre-marital partnerships among young females and males in urban slum settings, Pune, India

Mallika Alexander, King Edward Memorial Hospital
Laila Garda, King Edward Memorial Hospital
Savita Kanade, King Edward Memorial Hospital
Shireen J. Jejeebhoy, Population Council
Bela Ganatra, Ipas

Drawing on data from a population-based study employing quantitative and qualitative techniques, this paper explores the formation of pre-marital sexual partnerships among young females and males in urban slums of Pune, Maharashtra. Findings suggest that youth are aware of a variety of pre-marital relationships: romantic relationships, described as friendship or love-ship, as well as more casual encounters and sex worker relations. Few young females and substantially more young males report having experienced love-ship, non-penetrative and penetrative sexual relationships; males also report sex worker contacts. The paper describes these pre-marital relationships, and highlights gender disparities in these patterns. It then explores, among the currently unmarried, such correlates of key transitions (to loveship, to non-penetrative and penetrative sexual experiences) as (a) individual characteristics, including access to resources, gender role and other attitudes, self-efficacy, mobility, substance abuse and peer influences; (b) family level factors, notably parental supervision, communication on sensitive matters and conflict.

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Presented in Session 154: Passages to adulthood in developing countries (1)