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Amin, Avni & Bentley, Margaret E. (2002). The Influence of Gender on Rural Women's Illness Experiences and Health-Seeking Strategies for Gynaecological Symptoms. Journal of Health Management, 4(2), 229-249.


Community-based research on reproductive tract infections (R TI) has shown that many women in India suffer a significant burden of morbidity from gynaecological symptoms, accept these as normal and delay seeking treatment. This paper describes how gender inequalities influence women’s experiences of gynaecological morbidity and health-seeking strategies. Data for this paper are obtained from three villages in Gujarat, India, through in-depth interviews with 18 women who reported symptoms of R TI. The sample was selected form women participating in savings groups operated by the collaborating non-governmental organisation. Women describe how they give priority to fulfilling their work responsibilities over their discomfort. They explain normative pressures to remain with the husband and produce children with two years of marriage. Women exposed to violence report that they did not reveal their symptoms to their husbands. Where there is a better marital communication, they describe their strategies to refuse sex in relation to their symptoms. Women also express helplessness with their social and health situations in context of seeking treatment. We conclude that gender inequalities, manifested through fertility, marriage and work norms, violence in marital relationships and poor psychological health, have resulted in rural Indian women accepting high thresholds of suffering, and not seeking treatment for their symptoms. We recommend that RTI prevention and treatment efforts be part of a larger process of empowering women and men in which there is a discussion of reproductive, sexual and health rights.


Reference Type

Journal Article

Year Published


Journal Title

Journal of Health Management


Amin, Avni
Bentley, Margaret E.


Bentley - 0000-0002-1220-0208