The Role of Reproductive Health Knowledge in the Prevalence of Nonconsensual Sex in Rural Western Kenya
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In developing countries characterized by traditional gender roles in the context of women’s very limited economic and social power, the issue of nonconsensual sex is even more complex than in cultures where women have greater equality with men. The goal of this study was to investigate the prevalence of and attitudes about forced sex. One hundred and twelve women from a traditional rural community in western Kenya were interviewed regarding their knowledge of reproductive health and their attitudes and experiences surrounding forced sex. The results showed that 22.73% of the sample had been forced to have sex at least once, most often by their husbands (83.33 %). According to this data, knowledge of reproductive health, though it may empower women in some ways, does not act to deter forced sex. Furthermore, the experience of sexual coercion cuts across all demographic groups. Women reported being forced to have sex when they were as young as 13, and the average age for these women to have had this experience was approximately 21 years old. Almost one-third (28%) of the women had not told anyone. Thus, the issue of nonconsensual sex is beyond the scope of the knowledge of reproductive health in this traditional community in rural, western Kenya.