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Try out PMC Labs and tell us what you think. Learn More. In Australia and Canada, the sexual health needs of migrant and refugee women have been of increasing concern, because of their underutilization of sexual health services and higher rate of sexual health problems. This qualitative study used an intersectional framework to explore experiences and constructions of sexual embodiment among migrant and refugee women recently resettled in Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Sri Lanka, India, and South America, utilizing a combination of individual interviews and focus groups.
This was evident in constructions of menarche and menstruation, the embodied experience that ifies the transformation of a girl into a sexual woman; constructions of sexuality, including sexual knowledge and communication, premarital virginity, sexual pain, desire, and consent; and absence of agency in fertility control and sexual health. Women were not passive in relation to a discourse of sexual shame; a demonstrated active resistance and negotiation in order to achieve a degree of sexual agency, yet also maintain cultural and religious identity. Discursive constructions of normal sexual experience and expression, mediated by factors such as race, social class, and cultural background, determine the sexual scripts which women are allowed to adopt, as well as the possibilities for resistance Tiefer, This is the aim of the present study.
Examining how migrant and refugee women negotiate discursive constructions Women wants sex Alcalde sexuality and sexual embodiment is important for a of reasons. This has a of consequences. Specific cultural factors, combined with patriarchal family structures, may present barriers to accessing positive sexual embodiment and access to sexual health services following migration. It has been reported that many women from immigrant and refugee communities think it is inappropriate and disrespectful to raise issues of sexual health within a relationship, and some married women feared their husbands would divorce them if they insisted on safer sex Gifford et al.
Within cultures that emphasize the importance of virginity, sexual health services may be seen as inappropriate for young and unmarried women Beck et al. One of the limitations of research in this field is that it has not examined commonalities or differences in constructions or experiences of the different aspects of sexuality and sexual health outlined above, leading to a potential fragmentation of research findings into specific topic areas, such as menstruation, contraception, or sexual health screening. There has also been a focus on experiences of young unmarried women e.
And while researchers have begun to examine sexual embodiment in other areas of sexuality studies e. The focus of sexual and reproductive health research has also been on single cultural groups, primarily Vietnamese or South-East Asian populations Gagnon et al. The aim of this study was to address these gaps in the research literature, through examining the negotiation of discursive construction of sexual embodiment, across a range of experiences, in adult migrant and refugee women from a of cultural groups, living in Sydney, Australia, and Vancouver, Canada.
The research questions were: 1. How do migrant and refugee women discursively construct their sexual embodiment—focusing on the processes by which cultural meanings associated with sexual embodiment are produced and understood by women? How do women negotiate competing discourses associated with sexuality and sexual embodiment?
What are the implications of these constructions and negotiations for sexual health knowledge and behavior? Participants were migrant and refugee women 18 years and over who had settled in Australia or Canada in the last 10 years. Participants originated from various countries, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia and Sudan. Sri Lankan TamilIndian Punjab and South Sudanese women were also included in the Australian sample and women from various South American Latina backgrounds in the Canadian sample, to allow for analysis of sexual embodiment within and across cultural groups.
Women identified as practicing a range of religions, including Islam, Christianity, Sikhism and Hinduism, and encompassed a range of social class backgrounds within their country of origin. All participants, except for one Latina woman, identified as being heterosexual and ranged from 18 to 70 years old, with a mean age of The average length of time since migration was 6. The exceptions were Punjabi participants in Australia who migrated as skilled migrants or for family reunion, and the Latina women who migrated as farm workers. Recruitment within cultural groups continued until saturation of data was achieved—no new information in three consecutive interviews.
Table 1 provides the demographic information for the sample. Australia and Canada were chosen as the geographical site for the research as they are similar geographically, economically and politically, and have comparable migrant and refugee populations. Our intention was to include adult women from a range of cultural backgrounds, religions, and age groups, who had migrated within the 10 years.
The specific cultural groups were chosen through consultation between the research team and community stakeholders who partnered with us in the research. These stakeholders are involved with supporting or providing sexual and reproductive healthcare to migrant and refugee populations, and included migrant resource centers; sexual health, family planning and maternal health clinics; and community health centers, in both Sydney and Vancouver.
The cultural groups selected were recognized as being underrepresented in sexual health research and were identified as underutilizing current sexual health services, despite reflecting a ificant proportion of the recent migrant and refugee population of Australia and Canada. We excluded women from South-East Asia, as they have been the focus of a substantial proportion of sexual and reproductive health research in Canada and Australia, and women from China, who are part of very established communities in both countries, with established networks of health support.
Community stakeholders and key informants from the cultural backgrounds of the women we interviewed, including our community interviewers, were consulted in the development of the proposal, research de and methods, for guidance on the interview schedule and to gain cultural insight. These community stakeholders were identified through migrant resource centers that partnered with us in the research.
Women were recruited to participate in the study through community support workers, community interviewers, pre-existing community groups, flyers, and snowball sampling. Before taking part, women were informed Women wants sex Alcalde participation would involve discussion of sexual and reproductive health. Any queries about participation were addressed verbally with a community worker in the first language of the participant to ensure understanding.
The interviews and focus groups were semi-structured and lasted an average of 90 min. Women were informed that the discussion would examine their experience of sexual and reproductive health. Consent was given by participants to audio-record all interviews and focus groups, with the exception of one interview where the participant declined to be recorded and extensive notes were taken instead. At the end of the interview, women were given information about sources of advice and information, if they wished to follow up issues discussed in the interview.
The interviews were pilot tested prior to the research, in both a focus group and Women wants sex Alcalde format Ussher et al. Individual interviews enable the collection of personal in-depth s, on a sensitive subject, that may not be disclosed in a group setting Creswell, Focus groups provide a synergistic setting to gather insight into cultural and community norms, using interaction data resulting from discussion among participants e.
The focus groups were homogenous, as is recommended Krueger,consisting of women from the same cultural group, but involved separate groups for married and single women where possible. Using community interviewers is a methodology which has been successful in past sexual and reproductive health research with migrant women Go et al. The community interviewers were recruited specifically for this project, through partner organizations and other community networks. They were all migrant or refugee women, who had high school or tertiary education prior to migration. None had experience of qualitative research.
Prior to commencing data collection, they received interview training in the schedule to be used in this research, in how to conduct conversational interviews, and how to transcribe data, by members of the research team, in a 1-day workshop. Ongoing support and advice was provided for the interviewers throughout the data collection process by a member of the research team, who commented on transcripts as they were submitted, gave advice on questions that were not fully addressed in the transcript, and supported the interviewers in the general data collection. Each community interviewer was responsible for conducting approximately five interviews and one or two focus groups.
Interviews and focus groups took place at venues preferred by participants, primarily in residences or community facilities such as libraries and community centers and childcare was provided where necessary. The interviews and focus groups undertaken in English were conducted by AH, a member of the research team trained in qualitative research, who was not from a migrant or refugee background.
All women provided informed consent, and the research was approved by Western Sydney University and Family Planning University Ethics Committees and ethics committees of the project partners. In our Women wants sex Alcalde, we adopted a material-discursive theoretical approach Ussher, a Women wants sex Alcalde, embedded within a critical realist epistemology Bhaskar, Described as a way forward for research examining health in a sociocultural context Williams,critical realism is an epistemological standpoint which recognizes the materiality of the body, and other aspects of experience, but conceptualizes this materiality as always mediated by discourse, culture, and social or political practices Bhaskar, More recent developments of intersectionality focus on the interaction and mutually constitutive nature of gender, race, religion, age, and other of difference in individual lives and social practices Davis,p.
Within this framework, such as gender Women wants sex Alcalde culture are recognized as complex and dynamic concepts, closely linked to the processes and structures embedded in society that shape individual and group behavior Dyck, Analysis was inductive, whereby the development of themes was driven by the data and not by existing theory, research or hypothesis. Interviews and focus groups conducted in the first language of participants were transcribed and translated into English by the community interviewers who interviewed them. Interviews and focus groups conducted in English or Women wants sex Alcalde English spoken sections were professionally transcribed verbatim.
Transcripts were integrity checked by listening to the audio recording and reading written text to ensure authenticity and accuracy. All participants were given pseudonyms. The entire data set was coded by two members of the research team AH and CM utilizing the computer software NVivo, a program that helps facilitate the organization of coded data. Each researcher coded separate sections of the data independently, by extracting sections of text and filing them under the agreed coding frame.
The accuracy of coding was assessed by a third member of the team JUwho read through the coded data as it was progressing, and provided feedback. The codes were then grouped through a Women wants sex Alcalde of vigilant decision-making through discussion between JU, AH, JP, and MM, to create fewer, more distinct as the process continued. Following the coding process, each coded category was summarized in detail by AH and CM, to identify themes within codes, and participants who were reporting each theme, a process which served to highlight commonalities as well as unique stories across the data.
Thematic map. The research team consisted of white women, and women of color; women who had migrated and those born in Australia and Canada; academic researchers; and those working with migrant women in the community. Our different experiences were reflected upon in the de of the research, and Women wants sex Alcalde analysis and interpretation of data. We were also reflexive about the role of community interviewers, who shared many of the experiences of the women they interviewed, but also experienced differences in their views or experiences.
This was discussed during the interview training, as part of encouraging interviewers to be non-judgmental, and was also something we considered in our analysis, and our suggestions for future research. Quotes are substantiated by the use of pseudonym, ethnic background, and age. Through our analysis, no notable difference was found between the s of women from Australia or Canada; therefore, no distinction is made with regard to current country of residence.
No notable differences were found across individual interviews and focus groups; however, we have provided information of the type of interview conducted, as pseudonyms were not allocated to focus group participants. Where differences across culture, age or religions were identified, they are reported. Adoption and resistance of a discourse of sexual shame were not polarized and discrete subject positions, however.
The construction of sexual embodiment as an object of shame, necessitating secrecy and silence, began with menarche, Women wants sex Alcalde embodied experience that ifies the transformation of a girl into a sexual woman. The only exception to this positioning of menarche as shameful was found in s of a minority of women from Tamil and South Sudanese backgrounds, who described celebration of menarche through family rituals and practices, including ceremonies, parties and animal sacrifice.
The imperative for concealment extended beyond menstrual blood to the menarcheal woman, with many participants describing practices of self-seclusion. This culturally sanctioned secrecy and silence meant Women wants sex Alcalde many participants reported having received inadequate knowledge regarding the connection between menstruation, sexuality and fertility. When I got engaged, I experienced a lot of tension how to find out if one is going to have a baby. Some post-menarcheal girls did receive informal education about the association between menstruation and sexuality, primarily from sisters, aunts and friends.
These beliefs served to regulate relationships between men and women, now that young women were capable of getting pregnant. Because my mum always told me these stories. Such s were primarily from young women whose first menstrual period occurred after the majority of their peer group. As all of our participants were adult women, s of shame, secrecy, and silence associated with menstruation Women wants sex Alcalde retrospective, illustrating the ways in which patriarchal family structures intersect with age, and culture.
Very few women currently adhered to a discourse of menstrual shame. I want to avoid what happened to me when no one told me, so I told my daughter. I told her what was going to happen… So she already knows.
Once she gets her period, I will know and my daughter knows Sudanese focus group. This negotiation of menstrual shame and secrecy resistance was not without difficulty, however, as many Women wants sex Alcalde expressed concerns about the process of providing menstrual education. I bought them the things they need when they bleed…. Talking about sex was positioned as shameful from both a cultural and religious point of view. In some contexts, women were also at risk of violence, social ostracization, or were positioned as unmarriageable.
Positive experiences of first sex were in the minority, however, with the majority of women reporting fear, embarrassment, discomfort or pain. Adherence to premarital sexual secrecy and silence was not universal. A of women gave s of resistance through seeking out sexual information before they were married, as Nasira Iraqi, age 52 told us:.
We read it and hide it, this book. Other women talked about seeking out information on the internet, or talking about sex with close friends. I answer them everything they are asking me…I feel more freedom. A of women resisted a discourse of sexual shame through challenging the chastity imperative.
Some participants said that sex before marriage could be acceptable if you were intending to marry the man, or that it should be Women wants sex Alcalde personal choice. I was a rebel…I had sex before marriage…. I personally believe that no women should marry being a virgin, right? You cannot get married to someone without knowing how you are going to work together in bed.
For many women, marital sex was associated with silence, as sex was a forbidden topic between a woman and her husband, as Arifa Iraqi, age 48 explained:. Lack of sexual communication and knowledge meant that some married women had no concept of their own sexual pleasure.
Only a small of women, primarily those educated in Australia or Canada, resisted Women wants sex Alcalde of same-sex relationships. However, if women adhered to the cultural prohibitions surrounding sexual communication, they were not able to initiate or express their desire for sex with their husband.
Some participants endured painful sex because of cultural norms to remain silent, as Hooria Sudanese, age 35 said:.
In my culture its shame to talk about this pain, it is considered a normal [part] of having sex. He would not understand, so why would I tell him. Silence extended to the issue of sexual consent. For example, Saba Sudanese, age 48 stated:. Negotiation of a discourse of sexual shame within marriage was evident in s of resistance to the cultural dictate that married women never discuss sex, or refuse sex, with their husband. I would feel free to ask for certain things and to communicate my needs Women wants sex Alcalde pleasures, the way that I like to be touched, and all that.
And yes, I was able to tell him, let us stop because this is being like a torture for me.Women wants sex Alcalde
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Negotiating Discourses of Shame, Secrecy, and Silence: Migrant and Refugee Women’s Experiences of Sexual Embodiment