Sexual violence within marriage: a case study of rural Uttar Pradesh.
As part of a broader study on abortion-related decision-making among women in rural Uttar Pradesh (India), interviews on sexual violence within marriage were conducted with 115 women. At the time of marriage, the majority (76) of these women knew nothing about sexuality. In most cases, the first sexual encounter was characterized by male sexual coercion and female submission. Intercourse occurred an average of 3-4 times a week among younger respondents, then dropped to 1-2 times among those 20-35 years of age. Most respondents had experienced at least 2 unwanted pregnancies, which negatively affected their receptiveness to intercourse. Of the 98 respondents who were willing to answer questions about violence within marriage, 67 (68%) reported sexual coercion; in 21 (21%) of these cases, there was physical violence. In general, wives submitted to their husband's demands for unwanted intercourse to avoid violence. Women who did resist tended to be younger, literate women who used mechanisms such as threatening to endanger the husband's prestige by screaming, threatening suicide, waking up young children or bringing them into the marital bed, and claiming false menstrual periods. Until advances are made in women's socioeconomic status and legal rights, the view of sex as solely for a man's enjoyment will persist. However, family life education programs for male and female adolescents on issues such as gender equality, partner communication, and family planning could bring about immediate reductions in sexual violence.