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Negotiating Respectability: Migrant Women Workers’ Perceptions on Relationships and Sexuality in Free Trade Zones in Sri Lanka
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health, International Maternal and Child Health (IMCH). (Internationell sexuell och reproduktiv hälsa/Larsson)
Department of Community Medicine , Sri Jayawardenapura University , Nugegoda , Sri Lanka.
Department of Epidemiology and Global Health, Umeå Centre for Gender Studies (UCGS), Umeå University , Sweden.
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Medicine and Pharmacy, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Women's and Children's Health. (Internationell kvinno- och mödrahälsovård och migration/Essén)
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2014 (English)In: Health Care for Women International, ISSN 0739-9332, E-ISSN 1096-4665, Vol. 35, no 6, 658-676 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Migration has implications for women's sexual and reproductive health and rights. Our purpose with this study was to explore unmarried migrant women's perceptions of relationships and sexuality in the context of Sri Lankan Free Trade Zones. Sixteen semi-structured qualitative interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis. We found that the women's perceptions were influenced by gendered hegemonic notions of respectability and virginity. Complex gender relations both worked in favor of and against women's sexual and reproductive health and rights. Programs for improvement of migrant women's health should be informed by contextualized analysis of gender relations with its various dimensions and levels.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2014. Vol. 35, no 6, 658-676 p.
National Category
Public Health, Global Health, Social Medicine and Epidemiology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-211624DOI: 10.1080/07399332.2013.862799ISI: 000337633200005OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-211624DiVA: diva2:667643
Available from: 2013-11-27 Created: 2013-11-27 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
In thesis
1. Living Up to the Ideal of Respectability: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Implications for Unmarried Migrant Workers, Single Mothers, and Women in Prostitution in Sri Lanka
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Living Up to the Ideal of Respectability: Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights Implications for Unmarried Migrant Workers, Single Mothers, and Women in Prostitution in Sri Lanka
2014 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

This thesis aims to gain a deeper understanding of relationships and sexuality of women at risk of social exclusion in Sri Lanka and the risk of violations of their sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR) that they might face. Individual qualitative interviews with migrant women workers (n=18) and men (n=18) in the Free Trade Zone (FTZ), women facing single motherhood (n=28) and women formerly involved in prostitution (n=15) were conducted. Conceptual approaches included gender, social navigation and SRHR. The interviews were analyzed using thematic analysis, qualitative content analysis and discourse analysis. Findings revealed that the migrant women workers negotiated norms of respectability in a society that highly stigmatizes FTZ women workers, while the men identified conflicting constructions of masculinity existing in the FTZ. The women facing single motherhood navigated oppressive and stigmatizing social forces, and the women in prostitution constructed themselves as respectable in opposition to their societal disvalue and marginalization. In order to retain an image of sexual innocence, unmarried women are likely to refrain from demanding or demonstrating SRHR knowledge and accessing services. Furthermore, gender power imbalances leave the women vulnerable to sexual persuasion, coercion and violence. Once pregnant, social, legal, and knowledge barriers hinder or delay them in accessing abortion services. Unmarried pregnant women are thus left with the alternatives of adoption, infanticide, and suicide or become stigmatized single mothers with risks of health and social exclusion for mother and child. Extreme marginalization and limited power make women in prostitution vulnerable to unsafe sex, rape and violence. In conclusion, these women are likely to face numerous and serious SRHR hazards. The complexity of gendered social circumstances and the SRHR implications demonstrated in this thesis, add to the SRHR knowledge in Sri Lanka, and should inform politicians and policy makers about the need to improve the situation of all women in Sri Lanka.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Uppsala: Acta Universitatis Upsaliensis, 2014. 78 p.
Series
Digital Comprehensive Summaries of Uppsala Dissertations from the Faculty of Medicine, ISSN 1651-6206 ; 989
Keyword
Sexual and reproductive health and rights, Free Trade Zone, gender relations, social navigation, unmarried women, migrant women workers, masculinity, single mothers, women in prostitution, qualitative interviews, Sri Lanka
National Category
Medical and Health Sciences
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-221584 (URN)978-91-554-8924-3 (ISBN)
Public defence
2014-05-23, Auditorium Minus, Akademigatan 3, 75310 Uppsala, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Available from: 2014-04-29 Created: 2014-04-02 Last updated: 2014-06-30Bibliographically approved

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Jordal, MalinEssén, BirgittaOlsson, Pia

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