Sexual coercion, consent and negotiation: processes of change amongst couples participating in the Indashyikirwa programme in Rwanda

Erin Stern, Lori Heise

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Sexual coercion among married or cohabitating couples is a complex phenomenon with few effective strategies for prevention. This paper explores sexual coercion among couples from rural Rwanda who participated in Indashyikirwa, a 4-year intimate partner violence prevention programme that included a 5-month couples curriculum to promote equalitarian, non-violent relationships. Drawing on three rounds of longitudinal qualitative interviews with partners from 14 couples (28 individuals), this paper explores processes of change in experiences and conceptualisations of coerced sex over the course of the intervention and 1 year after. The data were analysed using thematic and dyadic analysis. Both partners of couples reported significant changes in their sexual relationship, including reduced experiences of coerced sex, greater communication about sex and increased acceptability for women to initiate sex. Men and women became more willing to disclose sexual coercion over the course of the interviews, both current and past experiences, and couples’ accounts generally became more concordant. Findings yield insights to inform programming to prevent coerced sex among spouses. These include grounding discussion of sexual coercion in an analysis of gendered power and norms, reflecting on the consequences of broader forms of sexual coercion and employing a benefits-driven, skills-based approach.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCulture, Health and Sexuality
Publication statusAccepted/In press - Jan 1 2018



  • Couples
  • gender norms
  • prevention programme
  • Rwanda
  • sexual coercion

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health

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