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Unwanted sexual experiences among young married women in India

K.G. Santhya, Population Council
Nicole A. Haberland, Population Council
F. Ram, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Rabindra Kumar Sinha, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
S.K. Mohanty, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

Sexual activity among adolescent females in India takes place overwhelmingly within the socially sanctioned institution of marriage, however marriage does not inherently make the sex safe, wanted or pleasurable. While studies on non-consensual sexual experiences within marriage are limited, a recent review of studies in India suggests that large proportions of marriages initiated in adolescence are consummated with force. This paper presents evidence on the magnitude of and factors underlying unwanted sexual experiences among young married women from a cross-sectional survey conducted in two states in India, Gujarat and West Bengal. Findings show that 8% young women in Gujarat and 14% women in West Bengal ever experienced unwanted sex. A number of factors such as years of schooling, familiarity with husband before marriage, inter-spousal age difference, type of marriage, and standard of living of the marital family were found to be correlated with unwanted sexual experiences.

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Presented in Session 83: Non-consensual sexual relations among young females and males in developing countries