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Reading: Romance, sex and coercion:insights into undergraduate relationships

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Original Papers

Romance, sex and coercion:insights into undergraduate relationships

Authors:

Nalika Gunawardena ,

Senior Lecturer, Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, LK
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Manuj Weerasinghe,

Senior Lecturer, Department of Community Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, University of Colombo, LK
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Lalini Rajapaksa,

Consultant Community Physician, LK
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Pabasi Wijesekara,

Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, LK
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PWP Chathurangana

Medical Officer, Ministry of Health, LK
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Abstract

Background Understanding youth sexuality involves more than describing their sexual behaviour.

Aims To describe the influence of gender roles in intimate relationships among undergraduates and to describe the attitudes of female undergraduates on sexual relationships.

Methods Information was obtained from unmarried female undergraduates (n=283) in the faculties of Arts, Science and Law in a Sri Lankan university through qualitative inquiries and self- administered questionnaires.

Results In the sample studied, 52% were engaged in romantic relationships. On inquiring whether they knew of instances where girls were forced to commence a romantic relationship, 36% responded positively while 73% knew of instances where girls were forced to continue relationships. A fear of being physically harassed by males and a fear of social unacceptability if the relationship was discontinued were the most cited reasons for being coerced into commencing or contituing a relationship. Sexual relationships within romantic relationships were known to 81% of students. Verbal abuse in romantic relationships was known to 57% of students while 23% were aware of physical violence in such relationships. Furthermore, 64% reported knowing females who unwillingly agreed to sexual relationships due to the fear of losing the relationship and 21% knew of instances where violence was used by male partners to coerce females in to sexual activities. On exploring attitudes it was shown that females did not accept the use of violence by males within romantic or sexual relationships. Female undergraduates did not accept premarital sex and were unsure of the responsibilities of males in this practice.

Conclusions Male dominance within relationships resulting in coercion seems to be common in undergraduate relationships though such behaviour was unacceptable to females. Continuation of such behaviour might endanger the establishment of healthy sexual attitudes and practices in both genders.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v2i2.4042

SLJPSYCH 2011; 2(2): 54-59

How to Cite: Gunawardena, N. et al., (2012). Romance, sex and coercion:insights into undergraduate relationships. Sri Lanka Journal of Psychiatry. 2(2), pp.54–59. DOI: http://doi.org/10.4038/sljpsyc.v2i2.4042
Published on 27 Jan 2012.
Peer Reviewed

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