Hesperian Health Guides

Pressured or Forced Sex

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HealthWiki > Where Women Have No Doctor > Chapter 5: Health Concerns of Girls > Pressured or Forced Sex

This content is from
pages 62 to 64 of Where Women Have No Doctor

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Pressure to have sex with a boyfriend (‘Date Rape’)

a girl pushing away a boy who is trying to have sex with her
If someone has forced you to have sex when you do not want it, it is rape.

All over the world, young girls and women are forced to have sex when they do not want to. Often it is done by boyfriends who claim to love them. In some places this is called ‘date rape’. The force may not only be physical. You can feel pressure from words or feelings. He may threaten you or say “please” or somehow make you feel guilty or ashamed if you do not have sex. This is still wrong. No one should be made to have sex when they do not want to have it.

  • If he wants to have sex and you do not, you can tell him you are flattered by his desire for you but that you are not ready. If you are afraid of being alone with the person, bring someone with you, or ask someone else to talk with him.
a girl pushing away a boy who is trying to touch her
  • Say "NO" loudly if you are pushed to have sex. Keep saying "NO" if you have to. Also say no with your body. If you say "NO," but give in with your body, he will think that you really mean "yes."
  • Move away if you are touched in any way that you do not like. Your feelings are warning you that something worse may happen. Make a lot of noise and be ready to run if you have to.
  • Do not drink alcohol or take drugs. Alcohol and drugs make you less able to use your judgment and control what happens to you.
  • Go out in groups. In many places, young couples court or date in groups. You can still get to know a boy, but you are less likely to be pushed into having sex because you will not be alone.
  • Go only to safe places where others can see you.
More Information
  • Plan ahead. Decide how much touching will be too much for you. Do not get caught by your feelings and let things happen to you.

If someone in your family tries to have sex with you (incest)

It is never right for someone to touch you if you do not want to be touched. Family members, such as your cousin, uncle, brother, or father should not touch your genitals or any other part of your body in a sexual way. If this happens, you need to get help. Even if the man says he will hurt you if you tell, you need to tell an adult you trust as soon as possible. Sometimes it is best to tell someone outside your family such as a woman teacher or religious leader in your community.

Young girls and older men

a man in a car talking to two girls who stand nearby

Some girls are attracted to older men. Going with an older man may seem very exciting, especially if he is well known or important in your community, or if he has money and can buy things. In some places a man who buys his girlfriend many presents is called a ‘Sugar Daddy’. Often a girl who goes with an older man ends up feeling she was used for sex or treated badly, especially if the man is married or has other women.

Sometimes an older man can make a young woman feel more pressured to have sex than boys her own age can, especially if he has power over her.

two sisters talk together and then with their parents; then the parents talk to an older man
Don't let Mr. Chifeve push you into it, Tarisai. Remember Alice? He got her pregnant and she had to leave school. I will help you tell Mama and Baba.
Keep your hands off our daughter!
More Information
sex workers

Trading girls for money or other needs

Sometimes a poor family will give a young daughter to an older man to pay a family debt. Or they may trade her for money or something the family needs.

a man and woman giving their young daughter to a man
Sometimes the girls are taken away to another town or city. They think they are going to work in factories, or as maids, but they are often forced to have sex for money.

If you think that you or another girl in your community is going to be sold into marriage, or sent away to work, try to get help from another adult. Perhaps an older aunt or uncle, or a woman teacher can help.

If you get pregnant and did not plan to

a young woman crying

You may be pregnant if you had sex and your monthly bleeding is late, your breasts hurt, you pass urine often or you feel like vomiting. See a health worker or midwife as soon as you can to find out for sure if you are pregnant.

a girl talking with an older woman
Talk to someone older who you trust.
Your life is too valuable to lose.

Many young girls get pregnant when they did not want to. Some of them are able to get the support they need from family and friends. For others, it is not so easy.

If you are feeling trapped by a pregnancy you did not plan and you want to end the pregnancy, please be careful in the decisions you make. All over the world, girls and women die from trying to end pregnancies in dangerous ways. There are safe ways to end a pregnancy.

This page was updated:23 Oct 2019