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Cult Health Sex. 2018 Oct 17:1-15. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2018.1491060. [Epub ahead of print]

Sexual intimacy and marital relationships in a low-income urban community in India.

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a Department of Community Medicine and Health Care , University of Connecticut Health Center , Farmington , CT , USA.
b Department of Social and Behavioral Sciences, Yale School of Public Health , New Haven, CT , USA.
c International Center for Research on Women , Mumbai , India.


Data from a six-year study of married women's sexual health in a low-income community in Mumbai indicated that almost half the sample of 1125 women reported that they had a negative view of sex with their husbands. Qualitative interviews and quantitative survey data identified several factors that contributed to this diminished interest including: a lack of foreplay, forced sex, the difficulty of achieving privacy in crowded dwellings, poor marital relationships and communication, a lack of facilities for post-sex ablution and a strong desire to avoid conception. Women's coping strategies to avoid husband's demands for sex included refusal based on poor health, the presence of family members in the home and non-verbal communication. Factors that contributed to a satisfactory or pleasurable sexual relationship included greater relational equity, willingness on the part of the husband to not have sex if it is not wanted, a more 'loving' (pyaar karna) approach, women able to initiate sex and greater communication about sexual and non-sexual issues. This paper examines the ecological, cultural, couple and individual dynamics of intimacy and sexual satisfaction as a basis for the development of effective interventions for risk reduction among married women.


India; Married women; low income; marital sexuality; urban

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