Does perceived sexual rights affect sexual violence in India? a cross cultural analysis

Shrikant Singh, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)
Vijaylakshmi Singh, International Institute for Population Sciences (IIPS)

Over the years, a growing concern of academicians as well as policy makers on reproductive and sexual rights of women entails that a woman has the right to be free from cohesive sex and sexual violence, including domestic violence. Sexual violence includes forced/coerced sex or rape, which has a detrimental effect on woman’s physical and mental health. Such violence also leaves woman at the high risk of acquiring STIs and HIV due to her subordinate position. The paper explores linkages between perception about sexual rights, conceptualizing equality in sexual relations and extent of accepting husband’s/partner’s sexual relations with other women and experience of sexual violence. Findings are based on information collected from 2478 female adolescents age 13-24 representing different cultural settings. Perceived sexual rights varies strikingly with age, where a substantial proportion of young women age 13-16, say that the husband/partner should not be accepted in case of sexual relations with other women. However, the pattern gets reversed among women age 21-24, who perceive that husband should be accepted despite his extra-marital sexual relations. The only exception is Aizwal, where the response remains similar across all age groups and it reflects that they are not ready to accept husband’s/partner’s relation with other women. A considerable proportion of young women, whose husbands are migrants, are ready to accept their husband’s extramarital relations across all the states. 52 percent women reported ever experiencing coercive sex. The odds ratio shows that women’s perception that ‘man can have sex irrespective of women’s wish’ is the most significant predictor of coercive sex followed by their educational attainment. The extents of associations are profound in Bihar and Karntaka. Therefore, any strategy to reduce the gap between perception about sexual rights and sexual violence, the core issue for addressing violence against women, should account its cultural manifestations.

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Presented in Poster Session 3