Shame, Silence and Secrecy

Migrant and refugee women’s sexual and reproductive health and embodiment

Authored by: Alexandra Hawkey

Routledge International Handbook of Women’s Sexual and Reproductive Health

Print publication date:  October  2019
Online publication date:  September  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138490260
eBook ISBN: 9781351035620
Adobe ISBN:


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The way in which women construct and experience their sexual and reproductive health is dependent on the cultural, historical, and political context in which they are embedded. In this chapter we explore how migrant and refugee women negotiate discourses and practices in relation to their sexual and reproductive health as they transition from countries where cultural constructions and practices associated with sexuality and reproduction may differ from those of their new countries of residence. We consider women’s experiences across the lifespan, including menarche and menstruation, sexuality both before and during marriage, fertility and fertility control, and menopause. We conclude that migrant and refugee women may be at risk of unmet sexual and reproductive health needs and negative health outcomes due to sociocultural norms that contribute to the potential for inadequate knowledge and low uptake of sexual health services.

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