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Exposure and sexual risk among young women in a Free Trade Zone in Sri Lanka


Tilak Hettiarachchy ,

University of Colombo, LK
About Tilak
Professor, Department of Sociology
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Stephen L. Schensul

University of Connecticut School of Medicine, US
About Stephen L.
Department of Community Medicine
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This paper based on a two-year study of behavior patterns of working women in Free Trade Zone (FTZ) at Katunayake, seeks to find out the level and social processes of sexually risky behaviour of these women so that risk reduction methods may be introduced. In this exercise a total of 1162 working women who had a rural background were surveyed with a very detailed questionnaire, generating 775 questionnaires that were sufficiently filled out to be considered complete for analysis. Most of the working women lived in boarding houses. For the great majority of women, their employment in the FTZ was their work outside the home. They worked long hours, walked home quickly and in groups for safety, cooked their meals and repeated the same behavior throughout the year. However a group of women with the earnings they made tried to enjoy life, getting involved with men in the FTZ communities. The data suggest that the opportunity for the development of relationships with men begirt with a young woman affiliating with a group of women involved in risky sexual activities. The research identified three major domains, which, contributed to the risky sexual behaviour of working women. These are the residence, the family and work; Variations in these three domains make a girl more, or less exposed to sexually risky behaviour. Finally the paper identifies some corrective measures, which may reduce the sexually risky behaviour patterns of these women.
How to Cite: Hettiarachchy, T. and Schensul, S.L., 2002. Exposure and sexual risk among young women in a Free Trade Zone in Sri Lanka. Ceylon Journal of Medical Science, 45(1), pp.47–57. DOI:
Published on 23 Jun 2002.
Peer Reviewed


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