Non-consensual sex within pre-marital relationships: Experiences of young women in India

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Article (peer-reviewed)

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In India, little is known about the prevalence of non-consensual sex within pre-marital relationships and factors correlated with such experience, although a sizeable proportion of young people engage in pre-marital relationships. Drawing on qualitative and quantitative data from a representative study of youth in six Indian states, this paper examines the extent to which young women who had had pre-marital sex had experienced non-consensual sex, that is, sex by persuasion or force, and factors associated with it. Analysis is restricted to 821 young women who reported pre-marital sex. Of those who had had pre-marital sex, 33% reported that they were either persuaded (14%) or forced (19%) to engage in sex. Young women residing in urban areas and in communities reportedly characterised by physical fights among youth were more likely than their respective counterparts to have experienced sex by persuasion. Young women who had delayed sexual initiation and those who displayed self-efficacy were less likely than others to experience forced sex. Young women who had experienced geographic mobility in adolescence and who had witnessed parental violence were more likely than others to report forced sex. Finally, those in southern states were less likely than their northern counterparts to experience forced sex.