Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION           477to make the first move. These patterns, however, are ...
478   JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005maneuver into the situation, and propose sex. Girls use such sexual strate...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION           479admitted committing this type of offense. The likelih...
480   JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005nity survey. Phase I explored the notion of physical intimacy in adolescen...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION           481worker, house helper, vendor, or service provider (e....
482   JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005sexual coercion and violence. The list of physical intimate acts in the su...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION          483asked to elaborate more on the concept of “sweet talki...
484   JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005      Holding      hands      Sticky eye       Putting arms        Hugging...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION            485TABLE 1: Forms of Physical Intimacy Experienced With...
486   JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005is understood as sekswal na pamimilit, from the root word pilit (forced, f...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION                   487Context of Sexual Coercion   Sexual coercion ...
488      JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005mate relationships mainly because of heightened sexual instincts during...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION               489TABLE 2: Locus of Sexual Coercion Among Victims, ...
490    JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005TABLE 3: Methods of Sexual Coercion With Victims, by Gender, Urban Philip...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION                       491   I never thought that my boyfriend of 2...
492   JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005                                DISCUSSION    This present study made a mo...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION                                 493   Model I:  Risk factors      ...
494      JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005   In conclusion, the development of a healthy sexual development among...
Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION                           495Jewkes, R., & Abrahams, N. (2001). A ...
496      JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005Waldner, L. K., Vaden-Goad, L., & Sikka, A. (1999). Sexual coercion in ...
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Physical Intimacy and Sexual Coercion Among Adolescent Intimate Partners in the Philippines


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Physical Intimacy and Sexual Coercion Among Adolescent Intimate Partners in the Philippines

  1. 1. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICALJOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005AL10.1177/0743558405275170 INTIMACY AND SEXU COERCION Physical Intimacy and Sexual Coercion Among Adolescent Intimate Partners in the Philippines Laurie Serquina-Ramiro University of the Philippines Manila This study explores perceptions about intimate relationships including perspectives of pressure and sexual coercion as experienced by unmarried Filipino adolescent males and females aged 15 to 19 years. The study design included an initial qualitative phase containing focus group discussions with adults and adolescents and key informant inter- views with professionals, a community survey of 600 female and male adolescents, and in-depth interviews with selected survey respondents. The results indicated that sexual coercion was regarded as common in adolescent intimate relationships. Viewed from a broader perspective, it can occur at any stage of the intimate process using a combination of methods. Of the 600 adolescent survey respondents, 64% reported whether they have ever practiced or experienced any form of pressure and coercion in their intimate rela- tionships. Of this number, 321 were targets of coercion, whereas 65 admitted that they had perpetrated the coercive act. Among the victims, 42.3% were males and 64.6% were females (p < .0001). The use of verbal pressure to pursue coercive sex was commonly reported. Recommendations were made to facilitate a healthy sexual development among male and female adolescents. Keywords: sexual coercion; physical intimacy; adolescents; Philippines Intimate relationships are governed by societal notions of gender roles, socialization, and power relations. Although the Filipino culture is relatively more egalitarian compared to cultures of other East Asian countries (Bouis, Costello, Solon, Westbrook, & Limbo, 1998), certain norms specific to each gender are expected. In the traditional setting, Filipino males need to be strong, firm, decisive, assertive, rational, and responsible; women should be meek, submissive, caring, and affectionate. Males are anticipated to perform the more active part in courtship and sex, whereas females wait for the males This study was supported by the World Health Organization Special Programme for Research, Development and Research Training In Human Reproduction. Address all correspondence to Professor Laurie Serquina- Ramiro, Department of Behavioral Sciences, College of Arts and Sciences, University of the Philippines Ma- nila, Padre Faura St., Ermita, Manila, Philippines; e-mail: Journal of Adolescent Research, Vol. 20 No. 4, July 2005 476-496 DOI: 10.1177/0743558405275170 © 2005 Sage Publications 476
  2. 2. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 477to make the first move. These patterns, however, are quickly being chal-lenged by today’s Filipino youth (Conaco, Jimenez, & Billedo, 2003). Theinflux of Western liberal ideas either through migration or cyberspace and thestrong advocacy by women’s groups in the country have increasingly restruc-tured the Filipino adolescents’ worldview of sex and sexuality. Adolescence signals the beginning of a more serious interaction with theopposite sex. Filipino adolescents generally first engage in romantic relation-ships at age 15, with males starting earlier than females (Raymundo, Xenos,& Domingo, 1999). Filipino adolescents today face earlier initiation into dat-ing because of advancements in communications, changing lifestyles, moreoptions for living arrangements, and greater liberty in the choice of date part-ners and places of dating. These romantic relationships provide an importantcontext in which adolescents explore issues of sexuality and intimacy(Feiring, 1996; Shulman, Laursen, Kalman, & Karpovsky, 1997). As part of this exploration into one’s sexuality, intimate activities godeeper in many adolescent romantic relationships. In the 2002 PhilippineYoung Adult Fertility Survey 3 (YAFS3) study, 23% of the 19,798 Filipinoadolescents sampled nationwide had engaged in premarital sex (31% ofmales and 15.7% of females; Raymundo & Cruz, 2004). Among these ado-lescents who engaged in premarital sex, 42.1% wanted the sexual activity tohappen; 32.5% did not want it to happen, but went along with it; 32.5% didnot have plans, but it happened anyway; and 2% engaged in the sexual actagainst their will. Having their first sexual encounter at a younger age, Fili-pino males have sexual relations repeatedly with different partners, whereasFilipino girls generally engage in such activity only with their boyfriends. An adolescent’s decision to engage in sexual activity can be affected by avariety of factors. Aside from biological reasons, factors such as personalityorientation, sociodemographic characteristics, attitudes and behaviors ofparents, siblings and peers, and media influence an adolescent’s initiation tosex (Lam, Shi, Ho, Stewart, & Fan, 2002; Little & Rankin, 2001; Ouattara &Thomson, 1998). The 2002 Philippine YAFS3 study indicated that those whowanted their first premarital sex to happen were relatively older (20 to 24 agebracket), had lower levels of education, and were currently working. In theirstudy, Gowen, Feldman, Diaz, and Israel (2004) also reported that girls witholder boyfriends were more likely to engage in all forms of sexual intimacyand experience sexual coercion. Negotiation strategies, such as bargaining, compromising, and gentle per-suasion, have been used by romantic partners to express their sexual desires(Eyre, Read, & Millstein, 1997; Kippax, Crawford, Waldby, & Benton, 1990;Melendez, Hoffman, Exner, Leu, & Ehrhardt, 2003). Often the more aggres-sive and persuasive of the two sexes, males go on dates, make phone calls,
  3. 3. 478 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005maneuver into the situation, and propose sex. Girls use such sexual strategiesas hinting at sex, flirting, and working through friends. Coercive behaviors,however, are not uncommon. In their study among Canadian adolescents,Poitras and Lavoie (1995) found that verbal coercion, threats, physical force,and the deliberate use of drugs or alcohol are used to obtain sexual behaviors.In Wood’s (2001) study of young people in a South African township, the useof weapons or physical threats in rape situations, as well as verbal tactics,such as persuasion, blackmail, or verbal threats, was apparent. AlthoughHolland, Ramazanoglu, Sharpe, and Thompson (1992) found that youngwomen experience both verbal (persuasion or coercion) and physical pres-sures (intimidation, sex when drunk, child abuse, force, or threat of force),Williams (2001) reported the use of humiliation and degradation; forced sexwith other adults, children, parents, or animals; forced prostitution and por-nography; and forced sex without protection from pregnancy and disease inintimate partner sexual abuse. Heise, Moore, and Toubia (1995) define sexual coercion as the “act offorcing (or attempting to force) another individual through violence, threats,verbal insistence, deception, cultural expectations, or economic circum-stance to engage in sexual behavior against the will” (p. 4). But as Ingham(1992) stressed, sexual meanings and scripts are dependent on the under-standing of the social and normative contexts in particular cultures. In manysocieties, sexual coercion is viewed in a continuum of tolerated to transgres-sive behaviors (Heise, Ellsberg, & Gottemoeller, 1999; Jewkes & Abrahams,2001). It may also exist in a scale of coercion and severity of personal viola-tion (Koss, 2001). For example, people may sanction forced sex with a prosti-tute, a servant, or an unresisting woman, whereas any sexual relationshipbetween adults and children, or among immediate family members forced orsex with a virgin or rape by a stranger may be considered a crime. Althoughthe experience of nonconsensual sex in marriage and adolescent dating arecommon, these behaviors are regarded as gray areas in some cultures. Numerous studies have been done to assess the magnitude of sexual coer-cion among adolescents. Using data from a large national health study ofadolescents between 11 and 21 years of age in the United States, Roberts andKlein (2003) found that 21% of boys and 22% of girls experienced beingcalled names, insulted, treated disrespectfully, swore at, threatened, andpushed or shoved or having something thrown at them by their intimate part-ners. In Jaffe, Sudermann, Reitzel, and Killip’s (1992) study, 21% of femalestudents in Ontario reported experiencing physical abuse, 23% were sexuallyabused, and 57% experienced verbal abuse by their intimate partners.Maxwell, Robinson, and Post (2003) found that nearly half of their femaleAmerican respondents experienced sexual aggression, and one third of males
  4. 4. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 479admitted committing this type of offense. The likelihood of reporting victim-ization increases with more frequent dating, going out with different part-ners, and dating older males. In western India, 26% of the adolescents sam-pled reported incidents of sexual coercion ranging in severity from unwantedkissing to sexual intercourse. No gender differences were discovered regard-ing victim status or types of coercion tactics experienced (Waldner, Vaden-Goad, & Sikka, 1999). Relevant data in the Philippines are mostly in the form of descriptive stud-ies of sexual molestations, including rape and incest, predominantly perpe-trated by strangers or immediate family members (e.g., Gabriela, 1987;Ramiro, Madrid, & Santos Ocampo, 1998; Sobritchea, 1990; United NationsInternational Children’s Fund and the Center of Women’s Studies, 1996;Viloria, 1990). So far, no detailed information is available to describe thenature of sexual coercion in Filipino adolescent intimate relationships. Thispresent study was an attempt to fill in this gap of knowledge. OBJECTIVES OF THE STUDY The aim of this study was to explore young people’s perceptions and expe-riences of physical intimacy and sexual coercion in adolescent intimate rela-tionships. It sought to analyze the emic meanings and scripts attached tophysical intimacy and sexual coercion as perceived and experienced by Fili-pino adolescent males and females. Specifically, this study tried to answer the following research questions:What behaviors between adolescent intimate partners can be culturally con-sidered as physically intimate? How is sexual coercion understood locally?What is the prevalence of sexual coercion among adolescent males andfemales? At what point in the physical intimate process does sexual coercionusually occur? What types of coercive acts are most common among adoles-cent intimate partners? What are the conditions or circumstances that lead tosexual coercion? What are the consequences of sexual coercion? METHODResearch Design A combination of qualitative and quantitative methods was used for thisstudy. Conducted in three phases, key informant interviews, focus group dis-cussions, and in-depth interviews were used in combination with a commu-
  5. 5. 480 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005nity survey. Phase I explored the notion of physical intimacy in adolescentrelationships and community perceptions of sexual coercion and violence.Phase II consisted of a community survey that provided an age-specific andgeneralizable description of physical intimacy and sexual coercion in adoles-cent intimate relationships. In Phase III, in-depth interviews were conductedto provide more details about the respondents’ coercive experiences and toclarify some preliminary information from the survey.Study Setting Data collection was done in 2001 in the Sampaloc district of the city ofManila. Compared to other areas in the city, Sampaloc has a dense residentialpopulation. As one of the 14 administrative districts of Manila, it has a totalpopulation of 352,329 in 2000. Predominantly a middle-class community,the district is composed of 241 barangays (villages), with an average of 315households per barangay. Sampled from the 10 barangays with the highestresidential population, three barangays with household populations of 561,608, and 560 were randomly chosen for this study.Study Population For Phase I, three groups of respondents were involved. Four men and4 women with ages ranging from 28 to 60 years composed the group of pro-fessionals that included social scientists, medical doctors, law enforcers, andteachers. Being in their professions for an average of 14 years, they have hadintensive experiences with adolescents either through counseling, teaching,research, clinical treatment, and other social encounters. The second group was composed of 3 male and 3 female adults with agesranging from 36 to 59 years. All of them were employees of a governmentinstitution and were chosen on the basis of their having children aged 15 to 19years at the time of the study. Finally, 5 males and 5 females, whose agesranged from 15 to 19 years, composed the adolescent group. The adolescentinterviewees were college students in a government university and had expe-riences in intimate partnerships. Six hundred unmarried adolescents aged 15 to 19 years were asked to par-ticipate in the Phase II survey. Among them were 298 males and 302 females.They were 17.7 years of age on average (males = 17.7, SD = 1.67; females =17.6, SD = 1.77). About 47% reached the college level (males = 48.3%,females = 46.4%) and 2.5% had elementary education alone (males = 3.1%.females = 2.0%). Eighteen percent (males = 16.2%, females = 19.0%) werecurrently working, either as crew in a fast-food chain, part-time office
  6. 6. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 481worker, house helper, vendor, or service provider (e.g., gasoline boys). In allsociodemographic variables, there were no significant differences betweenmales and females. A total of 820 households in the selected barangays wereapproached for the survey. Of this number, 220 households did not partici-pate in the study. About 62% had no eligible adolescent in the household;27.3% had an eligible adolescent but was not available at the time of survey;and 10.5% had an eligible adolescent who refused to be interviewed. For Phase III, 40 survey respondents were invited to participate in the in-depth interviews. Out of this number, 29 agreed to get involved in the thirdphase. The 14 male and 15 female interviewees had an average age of 17.2years (SD = 2.4). Of these interviewees, 4 had sexual preferences for the samesex, 3 were having a relationship with married men or women, 4 were havingan affair with older men or women (i.e., older by more than 5 years), and 3were going steady with persons of higher social status and 3 with persons oflower social status. The remaining 12 persons were having intimate relation-ships with partners from the opposite sex who were of the same age andsocial status as the respondents.Procedures Key informant interviews with professionals and focus group discussionswith adults and adolescents were conducted. Questions related to the localunderstanding of physical intimacy and sexual coercion were asked duringthese exploratory interviews. In addition, the range of adolescent behaviorsperceived by the community as physically intimate were identified. The con-text, process, and outcomes of sexual coercion within adolescent intimaterelationships were also discussed. The results of the interviews and focusgroup discussions were transcribed verbatim. Main themes, patterns ofresponding, and significant quotes were noted. The data obtained in Phase Iwere used in designing the questionnaire for the subsequent communitysurvey. In Phase II, a multistage sampling scheme was used in the selection of thefinal respondents. From each of the three sample barangays, 200 eligiblehouseholds were selected through systematic sampling. If there was morethan one eligible adolescent in the selected household, the final respondentwas chosen using a computer-generated table of random numbers. Twocallbacks were required before the selected respondent was dropped from thesampling list. The 15-page pretested questionnaire, written in Tagalog, consisted ofquestions that asked about history of intimate relationships; experience of avariety of physical intimate acts; and opinions, attitudes, and experiences of
  7. 7. 482 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005sexual coercion and violence. The list of physical intimate acts in the surveyquestionnaire was based on the results of the exploratory interviews thatidentified the intimate behaviors commonly experienced by Filipino adoles-cent partners. Similarly, all questions and response options relating to sexualcoercion conformed to the findings of the initial interviews. As part of the ethical standards, the purpose and mechanics of the surveywere explained to the respondents. They were assured that their answers willbe treated with utmost confidentiality. They were told that a second interviewmay be necessary in the future. They were also given the opportunity to askquestions prior to the survey, after which they were asked to sign theinformed consent form if they wished to participate. Because of the sensitiv-ity of the topic, the respondents were freely given the option of answering thequestions by themselves or asking the assistance of an interviewer. Through-out the interview, the interviewer was available for clarifications regardingthe questionnaire. Male interviewers did the asking of questions to malerespondents. Similarly, female interviewers assisted the female interviewees.The questionnaire was answered in a place of utmost privacy. The survey data were checked and field edited for completeness and con-sistency. They were encoded, edited, and cleaned. Answers to the open-ended questions were listed down before major domains were established.These domains were then coded and entered into the data entry system. Descriptive statistics (e.g., frequencies, proportions, measures of centraltendencies, and variability) were predominantly used to summarize the data.Significant differences between males and females were tested using the ttest for continuous variables and chi-square for categorical variables. The in-depth interviews (Phase III) were conducted 2 months after thesurvey had been completed to provide more details about the respondents’coercive experiences and clarify some preliminary information from the sur-vey. Forty survey participants were invited for the in-depth interviews. Theywere selected on the basis of their reported coercive experiences with theirintimate partners, on the distinctiveness of their intimate relations (e.g.,same-sex relationships, intimacy with older partners), and on their availabil-ity for the interview. The in-depth interviews lasted for 1 to 1.5 hr and were conducted in aplace where utmost privacy was observed. Once rapport had been estab-lished, the respondents were asked to tell a story about their coercive experi-ences. They were also encouraged to do written narratives if they found it dif-ficult to orally disclose their experiences. The respondents were also asked toexplain some of the initial findings of the survey. For example, they were
  8. 8. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 483asked to elaborate more on the concept of “sweet talking” as a mechanism ofsexual coercion. They were also asked to explicate on the findings on malesexual assault. As in the survey, the interviewers and interviewees werematched by gender and age. The interviews were taped upon consent of the interviewee. The qualita-tive data were then transcribed. Key themes, patterns of responses, and sig-nificant quotes were highlighted. All data from the three phases were finally presented in triangulated form.The survey results were explained and substantiated by the informationderived from the exploratory and in-depth interviews. RESULTS The results of this study are presented thematically. Findings from theexploratory interviews, community survey, and in-depth interviews are com-bined to form a more complete picture of each theme or subheading.History of Intimate Relationships Results of the exploratory interviews showed similar perceptions aboutwhat constitutes an intimate relationship. In the Tagalog vernacular, intimacyis referred to as pagkakamalapitan, taken from the root word lapit (close).Couples were said to have an intimate relationship if they were emotionallyattached, lovers, romantically linked, and engaged in a serious relationshipand if they had feelings of mutual commitment. Intimacy may also connoteoneness (pagiging isa); there is an emotional and spiritual connection and adeeper sharing of one another. In intimate relationships, there are morephysical expressions of love. Defining an intimate relationship as experiencing a romantic involve-ment, all survey respondents claimed to have been engaged in an intimateaffair at least once in their lifetime. The mean age of onset was 15.5 years(male = 15.4 years, SD = 5.04; females = 15.6 years, SD = 2.41), with themajority of their first partners being of similar age as them. The respondentsreported to have been involved with about two to three intimate partners onaverage (range = 1 to 12). At the time of the survey, 51.7% of the 298 malerespondents and 66.9% of the 302 females had current intimate partners. Theaverage duration of current intimate relationships was 9.4 months (range = 1to 32 months).
  9. 9. 484 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005 Holding hands Sticky eye Putting arms Hugging/ Touching the Touching or staring around shoulders Embracing nape stroking the hair (malagkit na (yakap) tingin) Kissing the Smacking Kissing the Kissing the face Torrid kissing lips (halik sa (panandaliang cheeks (halik and neck except labi) halik) sa pisngi) lips and cheeks Wrapping the Touching the Kissing/ Touching/ Touching waist and hips breast fondling the stroking the /stroking the with arms breast buttocks thighs Stroking Licking the Kissing the Kissing the Undressing feet upwards thighs pubic hair navel to face Rubbing/ Licking or Penetrative Touching the fingering the swallowing the sex genitals genitals genitalsFigure 1. Sequential flow of intimate events as reported by the adolescent respondents.Concept of Physical Intimacy The initial interviews emphasized the physical elements of intimacy.Although a number perceived an intimate act as synonymous with penetra-tive sex, sexual intercourse, or sexual act, a majority of the respondents had abroader perspective of physical intimacy. Accordingly, physical intimacyinvolves a wide range of behaviors that include holding hands, eye staring,putting arms around the shoulder, embracing, touching, smacking, kissing,torrid kissing (i.e., intense kissing involving the tongue), rubbing, licking,fondling, fingering, undressing, and sexual intercourse. There was, there-fore, a common notion that physical intimacy is not always in the form ofpenetrative sex. Based on this broad list of physical intimate acts, the survey respondentswere asked to arrange the behaviors according to their normal sequence in theintimate process (Figure 1). Generally, it appeared that holding hands andsticky eye staring (malagkit na tingin) were considered as the first steps in theintimate process, with penetrative sex as the ultimate goal. Moreover, the inti-mate process starts from the upper portions of the body, down to the waist andhips, and then to the lower extremities and genitalia. The survey respondents were also asked about the forms of intimate actsthey have already engaged in with their current or last partners. Table 1 pro-vides the proportion of adolescent males and females who have experiencedeach intimate act.
  10. 10. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 485TABLE 1: Forms of Physical Intimacy Experienced With Current or Last Partner, by Gender, Urban Philippines, 2001 (In Percentages) Male Female BothType of Intimate Act (n = 298) (n = 302) (N = 600)Holding hands 100.0 100.0 100.0Sticky eye staring 100.0 100.0 100.0Putting arms on shoulder 100.0 100.0 100.0Touching or stroking the hair 92.9 100.0 96.4Kissing the cheeks 93.6 98.0 95.8Hugging or embracing 92.4 90.1 91.2Kissing the face and neck except lips and cheeks 81.2 83.8 82.5Kissing the lips 70.1 86.8 78.4Touching the nape 82.2 73.6 77.8Torrid kissing (involving tongue) 57.7 54.6 56.2Wrapping the waist and hips with arms 42.9 65.5 54.2Touching breasts or chest area 23.2 18.5 20.8Kissing or fondling the breast 13.1 27.5 20.3Touching genitals 22.8 17.5 20.2Undressing 21.1 14.6 17.8Rubbing, fingering, or fondling of genitals 22.1 13.6 17.8Penetrative sex 19.8 13.9 16.8Licking the genitals 21.8 10.9 16.4Touching or stroking the buttocks 12.4 16.6 14.5Touching or stroking the thighs 4.0 15.2 9.6Kissing thighs 2.0 12.6 7.3Kissing the feet upwards to face 2.3 7.6 5.0Stroking pubic hair 5.4 2.1 3.8Licking the navel 1.6 1.3 1.4 The reasons for engaging in physical intimacy were feelings of true love(males = 42.9%, females = 44.7%), impulsiveness (males = 32.3%, females =30.5%), physical attraction (males = 30.5%, females = 28.6%), curiosity orexperimentation (males = 18.8%, females = 5.7%), environmental influences(males = 9.3%, females = 7.7%), and lust (males = 4.5%, females = 2.1%).Males and females differed significantly with regard to being curious orexperimenting in their intimate relationships (p < .0001, χ2 = 24.319, df = 1).Meaning of Sexual Coercion In general, sexual coercion was regarded as a process where a person isforced to engage in a physically intimate act against his or her will. Locally, it
  11. 11. 486 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005is understood as sekswal na pamimilit, from the root word pilit (forced, forc-ing). The essential elements were believed to be the use of force and theunwillingness of one party to engage in an intimate act. Force was defined bythe key informants as pressures that are physical, psychological, and verbal.However, not all pressures were believed to be harmful because a person canbe sexually coerced through promises, gifts, pleading, and the use of lovingwords. Unwillingness was also regarded as either overt or covert. As an adoles-cent male commented, “There are girls who really tell you that they do notlike to make love with you, they struggle when you make attempts but thereare also girls who are difficult to spell—they show you conflicting cues”(Male, 19, student). Sexual coercion was seen to be highly associated with power. Males andolder persons were unanimously thought to be more prone to do coercive sex.However, girls, older women, gay men, and lesbians were also perceived tobe capable of instigating the coercive acts. Aside from gender and age, powerwas also associated with high social status. Persons with higher educationaland socioeconomic status were more likely to coerce their partners. Aside from a show of power, sexual coercion was also seen as a form ofdisrespect to one’s partner. One male respondent commented, “if you trulylove your partner, you should respect her wishes. You should uphold her dig-nity. If she does not want to engage in sex, then be patient. Do not force”(Male, 20, working). The survey results revealed that 45% and 29.3% of respondents perceivedsexual coercion as “not okay” and “extremely not okay,” respectively. About16% said that sexual coercion was “acceptable,” whereas 9.5% were non-committal. For example, a gay respondent in the in-depth interviews claimedthat he enjoys being sexually coerced (“how I wish these young and hand-some men will always force me to do it with them”). Another male inter-viewee commented, “if a woman coerces me, that means, I am irresistible,”whereas a young woman said “I like being coerced. It makes it all the morechallenging and exciting. But not when it becomes violent.” In intimate relationships, sexual coercion (pamimilit) was not perceivedas exactly synonymous with sexual violence (pananakit) where one partysuffers from physical injuries and emotional trauma. Although sexual coer-cion can have positive and negative effects, sexual violence was seen as apurely negative event: “It is the extreme negative side of sexual coercion,where love is absent” (Female, 19, student).
  12. 12. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 487Context of Sexual Coercion Sexual coercion was said to be “usually incidental” in romantic relation-ships. It can occur without the obvious intentions because sexual coercionhappens mostly during the couple’s intimate moments. According to the in-depth interviews, a man, at the height of arousal, can have difficulty control-ling his urges. His tendency is to do every means to convince or force thewoman to give in to his sexual desires. If the relationship is still new and thewoman is a “first timer,” then sexual coercion normally ensues. Sexual coercion was perceived by survey respondents to be most possiblewhen there is privacy (78.3%), the place is dark (45.3%), a person is drunk oron drugs (32.1%), and when either party experiences some personal prob-lems (11.3%). One common scenario derived from the in-depth interviews il-lustrates the context of sexual coercion. It was my first time to go and watch a movie with my boyfriend. Our relation- ship was a month old then. At the ticket booth, we were already arguing where to sit but as most dates are, we decided to be in the balcony. When we were in- side, my boyfriend insisted that we sit at the backrow, but my decision pre- vailed to be in the middle seats. As soon as we were seated, he put his arms around my shoulder. It was OK with me until he kissed me in the lips. His kiss was so intense, then his hands began to travel to my breasts. I tried to remove his hands, but he prevailed. He then unbuckled my pants and planned to go be- yond my waist. I whispered to him to stop, but he seemed so engrossed with what he was doing. I struggled because I felt he was rough. I could sense his plans. I talked to him again, but he could not be stopped. He held my waist so tight I nearly could not breathe and told me to keep still. Then his hands went on seeking beneath my pants. I wanted to shout, but I felt ashamed because we were in a public place. I just silently cried. (Female, 18, working) Another male victim said, I knew he was a gay (bakla). He said he liked me. I do not know why I agreed to have a relationship with him, maybe because he is very thoughtful, sweet (malambing) and caring. I can tell all my problems with him and he supports me all the way. The first time we did it, we were in their house and his parents were away. He asked me to come to his room and he locked the door. He began to undress me. . . . I felt numbed, a bit shocked. (Male, 17, college student)Prevalence of Sexual Coercion Sexual coercion is not uncommon among young people, according torespondents in the exploratory phase. It is not at all unusual in adolescent inti-
  13. 13. 488 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005mate relationships mainly because of heightened sexual instincts during ado-lescence and the cultural limitations and taboos related to the expression ofone’s sexuality at this stage of life. One 18-year-old male adolescent respon-dent elaborated that “the libido is extremely high in adolescence and the per-son experiences an intense need to have this expressed.” Out of the 600 survey respondents, 386 or 64.3% reported to have everpracticed or experienced any one form of pressure and coercion in their inti-mate relationships. Of this number, 321 had been targets of coercion,whereas 65 admitted that they had perpetrated the coercive act. About 64.6%of the 302 female respondents compared to 42.3% among males (p < .0001,χ2 = 29.950, df = 1) claimed to have been victimized by their intimatepartners. Although 80% of the perpetrators are males, the findings indicated thatyoung men can also be victims of sexual coercion. In the in-depth interviews,one male respondent commented, Men, especially young men like me, are also victims of sexual coercion, some- times, violent. But our sufferings are often unheard especially if it has been done by a woman. People believe that with or without coercion, it is always the man who wins. But this is not true. (Male 19, student) Gay men and older women (matrona) were regarded to be the perpetratorsof male sexual abuse, although it was not uncommon to see the same-age fe-male intimate partner carrying out the coercive act.Locus of Sexual Coercion The meaning of physical intimacy appeared to be important in the waysexual coercion was conceived. The range of behaviors culturally consideredas intimate acts defined the locus of sexual coercion. Although some respon-dents in the exploratory phase considered sexual coercion only duringattempts on penetrative sex, the majority thought that it can occur at any stageof the intimate process. Sexual coercion can be present at the beginning albeitbecoming consensual as the intimate process proceeds, can start at a laterstage, or can be continuously coercive from the beginning of the intimate pro-cess until the consummation of the penetrative act. Accordingly, sexual vio-lation was perceived to be more severe in parts below the waist, especially thethighs and genitalia, although the breast and lips were also considered assensitive parts. Findings in the survey showed that a majority of the respondents experi-enced sexual coercion during attempts to touch or kiss the breasts, thighs, and
  14. 14. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 489TABLE 2: Locus of Sexual Coercion Among Victims, by Gender, Urban Philip- pines, 2001 (In Percentages) Males Females p ValueIntimate Acts (n = 126) (n = 195) (χ2, df = 1) aTouching or kissing the breast 18.3 34.4 .002Touching or kissing the thighs 15.9 31.3 .002aPenetrative sex 25.4 16.9 .07 aKissing or touching the genitals 5.6 15.4 .007 aHolding hands 5.6 12.8 .03 aRubbing or fingering the genitals 1.6 12.3 .001 aKissing the lips 2.4 11.3 .004Kissing from neck to waist 4.8 9.2 .14Embracing or hugging 4.0 8.2 .13Kissing the cheeks 5.6 7.2 .57a. These values are statistically significant.genitals and during penetrative sex (Table 2). About 10% experienced coer-cion when holding hands. Respondents in the in-depth interviews com-mented that holding hands is normally the first step in the intimate processand the “first is always the most difficult.” Moreover, touching the thighs andgenitals makes penetrative sex “easier to accomplish.” Genderwise, significantly more females reported to have been coerced inmost of the intimate acts prior to penetrative sex (Table 2). Although not sta-tistically significant, more males claimed to have been forced to have sex. Inthe in-depth interviews, the respondents agreed that the coercive act in malesmay have been inflicted by a gay man or an older woman. In general, however,they opined that young Filipino women today have become sexually liberated:“Sometimes, the woman can be more aggressive than the man. Men, now-a-days, are more careful. They want it easy and do not like to assume unwantedresponsibilities” (Male, 20 years, student). This type of attitude may havebeen precipitated by the economic difficulties faced by the country. Withscarce opportunities for employment and increasing costs of living, menseemed to have become wary of engaging in premature serious relationships.Nevertheless, there were also comments of possible underreporting on thepart of young women for reasons of shame and embarrassment.Process of Sexual Coercion In general, a combination of methods was used to force the partner to sub-mit to the sexual desires of the other (Table 3). However, the use of verbalmechanisms, such as verbal deception and verbal insistence, were noted to
  15. 15. 490 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005TABLE 3: Methods of Sexual Coercion With Victims, by Gender, Urban Philip- pines, 2001 (In Percentages) Male Female p ValueMethod of Coercion (n = 126) (n = 195) (χ2, df = 1)Verbal deception 27.8 35.4 .55 aVerbal insistence 17.5 27.2 .04Sweet talking 15.1 16.4 .75Direct command or raising of voice 10.3 16.9 .10Physical assault 11.1 14.4 .40Avoiding communication 11.9 10.3 .64Threats 6.3 7.2 .79Harsh eye contact 3.2 2.6 .75 aBribery 8.7 1.0 .001a. These values are statistically most common in all stages of the intimate process. Significantly, morefemales experienced verbal insistence than males (p = .04, χ2 = 4.038, df = 1).Sweet talking was also mentioned as a way of persuading the partner togive in to the sexual advances of the other. In the in-depth interviews, therespondents clarified that sweet talking can take three forms: paglalambing,pangungulit, and pambobola. Paglalambing was considered as a form ofsexual negotiation where a person makes persistent persuasion through theuse of sweet words, pleading, cajoling, and seductive gestures. On the otherhand, pambobola and pangungulit are more coercive in nature. Pambobola isa form of verbal deception where a person tells sweet lies to the partner (e.g.,saying how beautiful or handsome he or she is, promising marriage), whereasin pangungulit, one partner repeats again and again his or her intentions,though in a more gentle manner, until the other party gives in because of irri-tation or annoyance. Direct commands and raising of the voice, physical andpsychological threats, and harsh eye contact were also used for a good num-ber of cases. Significantly more males experienced being bribed (p = .001,χ2 = 11.692, df = 1), typically in intimate relationships with gay men andolder women. What comes to mind while sexual coercion is in process? In the survey,76.6% of the 321 victims reported to have harbored negative thoughts. Youngwomen felt angry, afraid, sad, and uncomfortable. Others felt not being lovedand respected, thought of their own dignity, wished to slap the partner, or feltlike cutting the man’s penis (bayagan). An interesting case was that of an 18-year-old girl who said that she was“totally devastated” when her boyfriend attempted to have sex with her.
  16. 16. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 491 I never thought that my boyfriend of 2 years would do that to me. I had so much respect for him, so I expected him to respect my womanhood. We never talked about having sex, never, because both of us are not yet ready for marriage, much more in having children. I felt betrayed, I cried, really cried. I don’t feel safe with him anymore.” (Female, 18, college student) Another female respondent who had a partner 7 years her senior reported, When he tried to rape me, I fought back. First, I was shocked. How can he do that to me? We had good times together. Several times, he made verbal at- tempts to make me agree to his sexual desires, but I always said “no.” He even said I do not love him because I do not want to give myself to him. But when he finally did it, I had to defend myself. I caught his penis and twisted it. . . . It was painful but that was a lesson for him. We have now parted ways.” (Female, 18, working) Male victims also felt angry, afraid, shocked, and remorseful. Others wereturned off by their partner and were afraid that they might be forced to marrythe woman (pikot). Others suspected that their partner was a prostitute. On the contrary, about 16% of female victims and 29% of male victimsregarded the sexual encounter favorably. Among females, the foremost rea-sons were “it’s part of the game” and “they finally liked it.” Males were sexu-ally aroused and were assured that their partners loved them.Consequence of Sexual Coercion Although sexual coercion among adolescent intimate partners can havepositive consequences (e.g., assurance of love, sexual excitement, enhance-ment of “macho” image), the majority of the respondents opined that sexualcoercion can be emotionally devastating because it indicates a lack of respectfrom the partner. Especially when it turns violent, it could also bring aboutphysical harm. One female professional said that “sexual coercion is a moralissue since it violates rules on human dignity.” The survey results revealed that about 39% of the 321 respondent victimswere temporarily abandoned by their partners; 36% were left for anotherwoman or man, whereas 35.8% received insults or were belittled. Physicalviolence was not unusual but to a lesser magnitude. About 5% were slappedin the face; 3.4% were hit with a fist; 1.2% were kicked; and about 1% werebeaten repeatedly. Seventeen percent (males = 13.8%, females = 23.0%) con-tinued to love and forgive their partners. From whom did the victims seek help and advice? The peer group(52.3%) and family (24.1%) were the major sources of social support. About19% of the coerced respondents did not seek help from other people.
  17. 17. 492 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005 DISCUSSION This present study made a modest attempt to understand the socio-cultural meanings and scripts attached to sexual coercion by young people intheir intimate relationships. However, the information derived is limitedby the extent to which the respondents were ready to disclose their sexualexperiences. The results of this study revealed that sexual coercion is a phenomenonthat can happen even in passionate adolescent relationships. It was thought tobe common at this developmental stage because of young people’s height-ened sexuality and emotional immaturity. Being inexperienced, adolescentshave difficulty managing the complexity of feelings and decisions and con-flicts that arise in their relationships. Gaps in age, and social status, environ-mental conditions, and the psychological states of partners at the time of dat-ing were believed to be the predisposing factors to perpetrate or be a victim ofa coercive act. Sexual coercion was seen as justifiable under certain circumstances. Sex-ual coercion was tolerated when one party allows the privacy of the environ-ment, sends conflicting cues, and provides the impetus for physical intimacyand coercion to occur and when sexual impulses could no longer be con-trolled. In their study, Jaffe et al. (1992) found that forced sex was perceivedby adolescents as “okay” if the couple had dated for a long time or if “she sex-ually excited him.” As indicated by previous studies (e.g., Russell & Oswald,2001; Sugarman & Hotaling, 1989; van der Straten et al., 1998), there is alsoa tendency for girls to interpret sexual coercion, including jealousy and pos-sessiveness, as “normal” signs of love. The study also revealed that the mechanisms of sexual coercion varyaccording to the stage of the intimate process in which it occurred, althoughverbal strategies were more generally popular. Verbal insistence was mostcommon among females, whereas bribery was more significantly applied toyoung men. In some respects, the dividing line between sexual negotiationand sexual coercion seemed obscure. Sweet talking in the form of paglalamb-ing, pangungulit, and pambobola is one instance where the method can bemisconstrued as negotiating and, at the same time, coercive. There also seems to be a growing understanding of the extent to whichcoercive sex can be consensual. A number of respondents in the in-depthinterviews admitted having eventually agreed to engage in physical intimacywith their partners after a series of persuasions, sweet talking, pleading, brib-ery, and the like. Such predicament was also illustrated in a number of studieswhere the sex act may be ultimately agreed on but in which full consent ofone party was not freely given (Holland et al., 1992).
  18. 18. Serquina-Ramiro / PHYSICAL INTIMACY AND SEXUAL COERCION 493 Model I: Risk factors Sexual conflicts Sexual coercion Sexual violence Consequences (-) Model 2:Figure 2. Model of sexual coercion in nonintimate relationships as illustrated in forced sex.NOTE: The negative sign indicates negative consequences. Model II: Sexual negotiation (paglalambing) Conflict resolution + pambobola Risk factors Sexual conflicts pangungulit Consequences Sexual coercion (pamimilit) Sexual violence (pananakit) - ±Figure 3. Model of sexual coercion common in intimate relationships.NOTE: A positive sign indicates positive consequences. A negative sign indicates nega-tive consequences. Based on these findings, two models of sexual coercion can be distin-guished. The common notion of sexual coercion assumes that sexual con-flicts brought about by personal, interpersonal, social, or environmental exi-gencies lead one partner to force the other to engage in an intimate act againsthis or her will. In this first model (Figure 2), sexual coercion always has anegative consequence and may, in fact, result in sexual violence. Sexual coer-cion in incest and forced sex between strangers or nonintimate partnersconform to this model. The second model applies to intimate relationships (Figure 3). Romanticpartners who experience sexual conflicts may either negotiate peacefully byusing verbal methods, such as paglalambing, or resort to sexual coercion(pamimilit). In some cases, prolonged sexual negotiation (e.g., pangungulitand pambobola) can eventually result in a coercive act. But because loveexists between partners, the coercive act may not necessarily lead to sexualviolence (pananakit). What inferences can be made from this study? A major issue pertains tothe legal implications of the way sexual coercion in intimate relationships isconceived. If intimate partners regard sexual coercion as inevitable in theirromantic relationships, then when can the coercive act be legally binding? Ifsexual coercion is seen with favorable outcomes, then at what instance canthe perpetrator be criminally liable? What evidence can be presented in courtif judgment is based on the presence of physical injury or psychologicaltrauma and if these negative consequences may not necessarily be present inintimate partner sexual coercion?
  19. 19. 494 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005 In conclusion, the development of a healthy sexual development amongyoung people is an important concern of society. As reflected in the consen-sus statement of the National Commission on Adolescent Sexual Health (Ba-con, 1999), an important goal of adolescence is to develop sexually healthy adults who have the ability to develop and maintain meaningful interpersonal relation- ships; appreciate own body; respect both men and women in a manner that is appropriate and true; and express affection and intimacy in accordance to one’s own beliefs and valuesPolicies and programs to guide adolescents in their sexual development mustbe established. Through the home and school system, adolescents should begiven support for developing the skills to negotiate a more consensual, plea-surable, and nonexploitative relationship with their intimate partners. REFERENCESBacon, J. L. (1999). Adolescent sexuality and teen pregnancy prevention. Journal Pediatric and Adolescent Gynecology, 12(4), 185-193.Bouis, H., Costello, M., Solon, O., Westbrook, D., & Limbo, A. (1998). Gender equality and investments in adolescents in the rural Philippines (Report No. 108). Manila, Philippines: International Food Policy Research Institute.Conaco, C. G., Jimenez, C. C., & Billedo, J. (2003). Filipino adolescents in changing times. Available from, S., Read, N., & Millstein, S. (1997). Adolescent sexual strategies. Journal of Adolescent Health, 20, 286-293.Feiring, C. (1996). Concepts of romance in 15-year-old adolescents. In E. Aries (Ed.), Adoles- cent behavior: Readings and interpretations (pp. 411-429). New York: McGraw-Hill.Gabriela. (1987). Wife battering: An invincible Philippine reality. Gabriela Women’s Update, Vol. III, No. 7 August-September 1987, pp1-3.Gowen, L. K., Feldman, S. S., Diaz, F., & Israel, D. S. (2004). A comparison of the sexual behav- iors and attitudes of adolescent girls with older vs. similar-aged boyfriends. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 33(2), 167-175.Heise, L. L., Ellsberg, M., & Gottemoeller, M. (1999). Ending violence against women. Balti- more, MD, John Hopkin’s University School of Public Health, Center for Communications Programs, 1999 (Population Reports Series L, No.11).Heise, L. L., Moore, K., & Toubia, N. (1995). Sexual coercion and women’s reproductive health: A focus on research. New York: Population Council, Inc. 59p.Holland, J., Ramazanoglu, C., Sharpe, S., & Thompson, R. (1992). Pressure, pleasure, power: Some contradictions of gendered sexuality. Sociological Review, 40(4), 645-647.Ingham, R. (1992). Personal and contextual aspect of young people’s sexual behavior: A brief methodological and theoretical review. Geneva, Switzerland: World Health Organization.Jaffe, P., Sudermann, M., Reitzel, D., & Killip, S. M. (1992). An evaluation of a secondary school primary prevention program on violence in relationships. Violence and Victims, 7, 129-146.
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  21. 21. 496 JOURNAL OF ADOLESCENT RESEARCH / July 2005Waldner, L. K., Vaden-Goad, L., & Sikka, A. (1999). Sexual coercion in India: An exploratory analysis using demographic variables. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 28(6), 523-538.Williams, L. (2001, January). Findings from the International Survey of Intimate Sexual Partner Abuse: Implications for future research and practice. Paper presented at the Fourth Meeting of the International Research Network on Violence Against Women, Johannesburg, South Africa.Wood, K. (2001, January). Defining “forced sex, rape, streamline and gang-rape”: Notes from an African township. Paper presented at the Fourth Meeting of the International Research Network on Violence Against Women, Johannesburg, South Africa. Laurie Serquina-Ramiro, Ph.D., is an associate professor of the Department of Behav- ioral Sciences and an affiliate faculty of the Department of Clinical Epidemiology, Col- lege of Medicine, University of the Philippines Manila. Her research interests include domestic violence, lifestyle behaviors, and health-related quality of life.