The Marital Sexual Experiences of South African Muslim Wives of Indian Descent Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Main Article Content

Maryam Khan https://orcid.org/0009-0005-2641-4548
Dr Sumayya Ebrahim

Keywords

Islam, Muslim wives , Marital sexual experiences, Indian culture , Islamic teachings , Sexuality, Sexual education

Abstract

This article explores South African Muslim Indian wives’ sexuality in monogamous marriages, analyzing the effect of religious teachings and cultural norms on sexual experiences using hermeneutic phenomenology. Twelve participants were selected, employing purposive and snowball sampling techniques. Semi-structured interviews were conducted online and in-person using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis methodology. Results highlight emotional and psychological challenges faced by Muslim women during marital sexual initiation due to religious teachings and limited sex education. The study underscores perpetuated traditional gender norms and patriarchal structures through cultural conditioning. Muslim wives experience sexual desire discrepancy, negatively impacting their mental health and self-esteem. Despite challenges, transformative potential in marital relationships is indicated through understanding, communication, and mutual sexual satisfaction.

Abstract 57 | PDF Downloads 816

References

Alomair, N., Alageel, S., Davies, N., & Bailey, J. V. (2021). Sexual and reproductive health knowledge, perceptions and experiences of women in Saudi Arabia: A qualitative study. Ethnicity & Health, 26(6), 1–19. https://doi.org/10.1080/13557858.2021.1873251

Amini, E., & McCormack, M. (2020). Older Iranian Muslim women’s experiences of sex and sexuality: A biographical approach. The British Journal of Sociology, 72(2), 300–314. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12805

Aziz, E., Abdullah, I., & Prasojo, Z. (2020). Why are women subordinated? The misrepresentation of the Qur’an in Indonesian discourse and practice. Journal of International Women’s Studies, 21(6), 235–248. https://vc.bridgew.edu/jiws/vol21/iss6/14/

Bakuri, A., & Spronk, R. (2022). Piety and pleasure: Religion, sexuality and the cultivation of the self among Ghanaian-Dutch and Somali-Dutch women. New Diversities, 24(2). https://doi.org/10.58002/zjs1-0y88

Elliott, S., & Umberson, D. (2008). The performance of desire: Gender and sexual negotiation in long-term marriages. Journal of Marriage and Family, 70(2), 391–406. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1741-3737.2008.00489.x

Endendijk, J. J., van Baar, A. L., & Deković, M. (2019). He is a stud, she is a slut! A meta-analysis on the continued existence of sexual double standards. Personality and Social Psychology Review, 24(2), 163–190. https://doi.org/10.1177/1088868319891310

Gelinas, L., Pierce, R., Winkler, S., Cohen, I.G., Lynch, H.F. & Bierer, B.E. (2017). Using social media as a research recruitment tool: Ethical issues and recommendations. The American Journal of Bioethics, [online] 17(3), pp.3–14. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/15265161.2016.1276644.

Haghi, F., Allahverdipour, H., Nadrian, H., Sarbakhsh, P., Hashemiparast, M., & Mirghafourvand, M. (2017). Sexual problems, marital intimacy and quality of sex life among married women: A study from an Islamic country. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 33(3). https://doi.org/10.1080/14681994.2017.1386302

Hayfield, N., & Clarke, V. (2012). “I’d be just as happy with a cup of tea”: Women’s accounts of sex and affection in long-term heterosexual relationships. Women’s Studies International Forum, 35(2), 67–74. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wsif.2012.01.003

Herbenick, D., Mullinax, M., & Mark, K. (2014). Sexual desire discrepancy as a feature, not a bug, of long‐term relationships: Women’s self‐reported strategies for modulating sexual desire. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 11(9), 2196–2206. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12625

Hoel, N. (2014). Engaging Islamic sexual ethics: Intimacy, pleasure and sacrality. Sexualities, 18(1-2), 80–99. https://doi.org/10.1177/1363460714547718

Hoel, N., & Shaikh, S. (2013). Sex as ibadah: Religion, gender, and subjectivity among South African Muslim women. Journal of Feminist Studies in Religion, 29(1), 69–91. https://doi.org/10.2979/jfemistudreli.29.1.69

Horrigan-Kelly, M., Millar, M., & Dowling, M. (2016). Understanding the key tenets of heidegger’s philosophy for interpretive phenomenological research. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 15(1). https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406916680634

Ibrahimipure, H., Jalambadani, Z., Najjar, A. V., & Dehnavieh, R. (2012). First experience of intercourse in married women of Sabzevar city. A phenomenological study. HealthMed, 6(2), 453–461. https://www.researchgate.net/profile/Ismail-Kara-2/publication/289695602_Evaluation_of_patient_satisfaction_with_family_physicians_after_implementation_of_family_medicine_in_Turkey/links/5694d78908ae425c68977149/Evaluation-of-patient-satisfaction-with-family-physicians-after-implementation-of-family-medicine-in-Turkey.pdf#page=117

Jodouin, J.-F., Rosen, N. O., Merwin, K., & Bergeron, S. (2021). Discrepancy in dyadic sexual desire predicts sexual distress over time in a community sample of committed couples: A daily diary and longitudinal study. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 50. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-021-01967-0

Kafle, N. P. (2013). Hermeneutic phenomenological research method simplified. Bodhi: An Interdisciplinary Journal, 5(1), 181–200. https://doi.org/10.3126/bodhi.v5i1.8053

Khan, M. B., & Seedat, F. (2017). Secure between God and man: Peace, tranquility and sexuality through the pietistic aspirations of believing women. Journal for the Study of Religion, 30(1), 137–160. https://doi.org/10.17159/2413-3027/2017/v30n1a6

Kim, J. J., Muise, A., Barranti, M., Mark, K. P., Rosen, N. O., Harasymchuk, C., & Impett, E. (2020). Are couples more satisfied when they match in sexual desire? New insights from response surface analyses. Social Psychological and Personality Science, 12(4), 487–496. https://doi.org/10.1177/1948550620926770

Lamba, A., Nadiah Mohajir, & Rahman, S. (2023). A review of the psychosocial factors that contribute to sexuality, female sexual dysfunction, and sexual pain among Muslim women. Sexual Medicine Reviews, 11. https://doi.org/10.1093/sxmrev/qead019

Larkin, M., Watts, S., & Clifton, E. (2006). Giving voice and making sense in interpretative phenomenological analysis. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 3(2), 102–120. https://doi.org/10.1191/1478088706qp062oa

Laverty, S. M. (2003). Hermeneutic phenomenology and phenomenology: A comparison of historical and methodological considerations. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 2(3), 21–35. https://doi.org/10.1177/160940690300200303

Leedy, P. D. (2015). Qualitative research methods. In Practical Research: Planning and Design (pp. 269–289). Pearson.

Lourens, H. (2015). The lived experiences of higher education for students with a visual impairment : A phenomenological study at two universities in the Western Cape, South Africa [PhD]. https://scholar.sun.ac.za/items/b3e80f54-2b62-4e19-b913-6cc3402005b2

Maasoumi, R., Elsous, A., Hussein, H., Taghizadeh, Z., & Baloushah, S. (2019). Female sexual dysfunction among married women in the Gaza Strip: An internet-based survey. Annals of Saudi Medicine, 39(5), 319–327. https://doi.org/10.5144/0256-4947.2019.319

Mandivenga, E. C. (2000). The Cape Muslims and the Indian Muslims of South Africa: A comparative analysis. Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs, 20(2), 347–352. https://doi.org/10.1080/713680371

Mark, K. P. (2012). The relative impact of individual sexual desire and couple desire discrepancy on satisfaction in heterosexual couples. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 27(2), 133–146.
https://doi.org/10.1080/14681994.2012.678825

Mark, K. P. (2014). The impact of daily sexual desire and daily sexual desire discrepancy on the quality of the sexual experience in couples. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 23(1), 27–33. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.23.1.a2
McNulty, J. K., Maxwell, J. A., Meltzer, A. L., & Baumeister, R. F. (2019). Sex-Differentiated changes in sexual desire predict marital dissatisfaction. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 48(8), 2473–2489. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-019-01471-6

Muhamad, R., Horey, D., Liamputtong, P., Low, W. Y., Mohd Zulkifli, M., & Sidi, H. (2021). Transcripts of unfulfillment: A study of sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction among Malay-Muslim women in Malaysia. Religions, 12(3), 1–14. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030205

O’Mullan, C., Doherty, M., Coates, R., & Tilley, P. J. M. (2017). Using interpretative phenomenological analysis (IPA) to provide insight into female sexual difficulties. Sexual and Relationship Therapy, 34(1), 75–86. https://doi.org/10.1080/14681994.2017.1386300

Patton, M. Q. (2015). Qualitative Research & Evaluation Methods: Integrating Theory and Practice (4th ed.). Sage Publications, Inc.

Pillay, K. (2019). Indian Identity in South Africa. In S. Ratuva (Ed.), The Palgrave Handbook of Ethnicity (pp. 77–92). Palgrave Macmillan. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-2898-5_9

Remes, O., Mendes, J.F. & Templeton, P. (2021). Biological, psychological, and social determinants of depression: A review of recent literature. Brain Sciences, [online] 11(12), pp.1–33. doi:https://doi.org/10.3390/brainsci11121633.

Riyani, I. (2014). Research on (women’s) sexuality in Islam. Islamika Indonesiana, 1(2), 1–18. https://doi.org/10.15575/isin.v1i2.1130

Riyani, I. (2016). The silent desire: Islam, women’s sexuality and the politics of patriarchy in Indonesia [Doctoral Dissertation]. https://research-repository.uwa.edu.au/en/publications/the-silent-desire-islam-womens-sexuality-and-the-politics-of-patr

Rosen, N. O., Bailey, K., & Muise, A. (2017). Degree and direction of sexual desire discrepancy are linked to sexual and relationship satisfaction in couples transitioning to parenthood. The Journal of Sex Research, 55(2), 214–225. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1321732

Samadi, P., Maasoumi, R., Salehi, M., Ramezani, M. A., & Kohan, S. (2018). Married women’s and men’s experiences regarding the concept of sexual desire: A qualitative research. Iranian Journal of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, 13(1), 1–9. https://doi.org/10.5812/ijpbs.66324

Sanjari, M., Bahramnezhad, F., Fomani, F. K., Shoghi, M., & Cheraghi, M. A. (2014). Ethical challenges of researchers in qualitative studies: The necessity to develop a specific guideline. Journal of Medical Ethics and History of Medicine, 7(14), 1–6. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4263394/

Shaikh, S. D. (2003). Transforming feminisms: Islam, women, and gender justice. In Progressive Muslims: On justice, Gender and Pluralism (pp. 147–162).

Smith, J.A. (2007). Hermeneutics, human sciences and health: Linking theory and practice. International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 2(1), pp.3–11. doi:https://doi.org/10.1080/17482620601016120.

Smith, J.A., Flowers, P. & Larkin, M. (2012). Interpretative Phenomenological analysis: Theory, Method and Research. London: SAGE.

Stephenson, K. R., & Meston, C. M. (2015). Why is impaired sexual function distressing to women? The primacy of pleasure in female sexual dysfunction. The Journal of Sexual Medicine, 12(3), 728–737. https://doi.org/10.1111/jsm.12804

Suddick, K. M., Cross, V., Vuoskoski, P., Galvin, K. T., & Stew, G. (2020). The work of hermeneutic phenomenology. International Journal of Qualitative Methods, 19(19), 160940692094760. https://doi.org/10.1177/1609406920947600

Sutherland, S. E., Rehman, U. S., Fallis, E. E., & Goodnight, J. A. (2015). Understanding the phenomenon of sexual desire discrepancy in couples. The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality, 24(2), 141–150. https://doi.org/10.3138/cjhs.242.a3

Vahed, G. (2007). Islam in the public sphere in post-Apartheid South Africa : Prospects and challenges. Journal for Islamic Studies, 27, 1. https://doi.org/10.10520/EJC47138

Vahed, G. (2020). Muslims in post-apartheid South Africa: Race, community, and identity. Social Identities, 1–15. https://doi.org/10.1080/13504630.2020.1814724

Willoughby, B. J., Farero, A. M., & Busby, D. M. (2013). Exploring the effects of sexual desire discrepancy among married couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 43(3), 551–562. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-013-0181-2


Willoughby, B. J., & Vitas, J. (2011). Sexual desire discrepancy: The effect of individual differences in desired and actual sexual frequency on dating couples. Archives of Sexual Behavior, 41(2), 477–486. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10508-011-9766-9

Wojnar, D. M., & Swanson, K. M. (2007). Phenomenology: An exploration. Journal of Holistic Nursing, 25(3), 172–180. https://doi.org/10.1177/0898010106295172

Zheng, J., Skiba, M. A., Bell, R. J., Islam, R. M., & Davis, S. R. (2020). The prevalence of sexual dysfunctions and sexually related distress in young women: A cross-sectional survey. Fertility and Sterility, 113(2), 426–434. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.fertnstert.2019.09.027

Similar Articles

1-10 of 29

You may also start an advanced similarity search for this article.