Migrants are those who move from one area to the other for a specific reason. The migration could be between village and city, inter-district, inter-state or to a new country. Very many Indians have moved out of India for various reasons such as work, studies or family. India ranks second (next to China) in the list of countries sending migrants to the rest of the world with an estimate of 20 million Indian migrants living outside India (World Migration Report, 2005).
Acculturation is the process by which migrants learn to live in the new area with new people, language, culture, value system, food, climate and many other aspects of day-to-day living. The existing culture in the new area/society that migrants have moved in to is referred as the ‘dominant’ culture and the one they bring with them is called the ‘heritage/traditional’ culture.
When migrants move out of India in to a new country especially to a Western country like the USA, the UK or Australia, there are very many issues that they need to adjust to. That adjustment can happen in few months or years and for some it may not happen at all. Sexuality and relationship, the two very important aspects of life that are influenced by socio-cultural factors, can be very challenging to migrants. Migration and acculturation adds a new dimension to the cultural context of the sexuality, relationship and marriage.
It is very common for an Indian man to migrate to a western country and then few years later get married (mostly due to the pressure of parents living in India) to an Indian girl in India. The newly married girl accompanies her ‘new’ life partner to the new country. The journey is filled with excitement and anxiety! Certain demographic variables, where the girl grew up and the amount of exposure to the western lifestyle determine the settlement of the newly married couple. Unlike seen in films, life in a new country, especially for migrants, could be very difficult and demanding. This can have serious impacts on the sexual relationship of the migrants. It is important to vent out these issues.
There is another group of migrants who DON’T want to get married and try to continuously resist their parents’ pressure. There could be various reasons for doing that such as financial struggle, wanting to achieve a life goal, dislike towards the ‘too committed’ (wed-lock) nature of traditional relationships, wanting to explore/enjoy sex without restrictions, wanting to fix their long held sexual concerns or confusions around orientation and identity or simply wanting to marry a ‘western’ girl.
Second-generation migrants [children born to migrants and being brought up in the new (western) society] can have conflicts in beliefs, values and attitudes towards very many issues including sexuality. This could be an inter-generational conflict or could be due to significant differences between what their parents teach them at home (if the parents have not acculturated well) what they gather outside home.
The socio-cultural context of human sexuality and its problems is very important.
IF YOU ARE A MIGRANT AND WANT TO CHAT ABOUT ANY OF YOUR CONCERNS PLEASE CONTACT US.