In Australia and Canada, the sexual health needs of migrant and refugee women have been of increasing concern, because of their underutilization of sexual health services and higher rate of sexual health problems. Previous research on migrant women’s sexual health has focused on their higher risk of difficulties, or barriers to service use, rather than their construction or understanding of sexuality and sexual health, which may influence service use and outcomes. Further, few studies of migrant and refugee women pay attention to the overlapping role of culture, gender, class, and ethnicity in women’s understanding of sexual health.

This qualitative study used an intersectional framework to explore experiences and constructions of sexual embodiment among 169 migrant and refugee women recently resettled in Sydney, Australia and Vancouver, Canada, from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Sri Lanka, India, and South America, utilizing a combination of individual interviews and focus groups. Across all of the cultural groups, participants described a discourse of shame, associated with silence and secrecy, as the dominant cultural and religious construction of women’s sexual embodiment.

Read more here.