Consent and Coercion: Examining Unwanted Sex within Marriage

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)

Despite increased recognition of the pervasiveness of domestic violence and its association with reproductive health outcomes, many aspects remain poorly understood. One such gap concerns understanding and measuring sexual coercion. Sexual coercion exists along a continuum of behaviors, from threats and intimidation, to sex that may not be perceived as forced but is nonetheless unwanted, to rape. Yet most studies have looked primarily at "forced sex". The few studies examining more subtle forms of coercion have shown that respondents, given the opportunity, specify experiences of sex that are not forced per se, but are unwanted. Such studies have indicated a considerably higher proportion of non-consensual sexual experiences than questions of "forced" sex alone elicit. In this paper, we present findings from a cross-sectional study in rural India on the extent of unwanted sexual experiences among young married women/girls, the various underlying factors, associated reproductive health outcomes, and methodological insights.

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Presented in Session 43: Domestic Violence, Sexual Behaviors, and Reproductive Health