In forests and factories: sexual behaviour among young migrant workers in Nepal

Abstract

In Nepal, it is commonly assumed that young people migrating to Kathmandu Valley for work in carpet and garment factories are at risk from negative sexual health outcomes. Greater independence and mixed-sex housing could lead young people to initiate sexual behaviour earlier, and have more sexual partners, than they would in rural communities. A recent survey among factory workers, however, suggested that sexual knowledge and experience were often gained in home villages, prior to migration. This paper presents data from a follow-up qualitative study comprising in-depth interviews with 11 male and 12 female young migrant workers reporting high-risk sexual behaviour. Exploring the circumstances of such episodes in both village and factory environments, the study found that young people experience a wide range of consensual and coercive sexual relationships while still in home communities. Resulting negative emotional or sexual health outcomes can serve as a catalyst for the decision to migrate to Kathmandu Valley. Once employed in factories, young people find increased opportunities for sex, but many of their perceptions of risk, pleasure, and negotiation have already been established. Understanding these realities can contribute to the identification of appropriate ways to meet young people's sexual health needs.

Citation

M. C. Puri and J. Busza. In forests and factories: sexual behaviour among young migrant workers in Nepal. Culture Health and Sexuality (2004) 6 (2) 145-158. [DOI: 10.1080/13691050310001619653]

In forests and factories: sexual behaviour among young migrant workers in Nepal

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