Introduction Over the years, there has been a huge influx of Bangladeshis crossing into India for employment in an undocumented way exposing themselves to various dangers and risks. The present study aims to understand the multidimensional risk of Sexually Transmitted Infections among the undocumented female Bangladeshi migrants in Kolkata, India.
Methods Bivariate and multivariate techniques were used on the data which was collected in the year 2016 from 200 female undocumented Bangladeshi migrants residing in Kolkata, India by using respondent driven sampling.
Results Though 60% migrants knew about HIV/AIDS, only a quarter heard about STIs and its main source of information was health workers and NGOs. Almost half respondents had misconception about STIs (only bad people get STI, physical appearance of person can tell about presence of STI etc). The most prevalent symptoms among these migrants were excess white discharge (35%), itching over vulva (23%) and pain in lower abdomen not related to menses (12.5%). 50% had a few (4 or less) STI symptoms and 12% had many symptoms. STI symptoms were high among migrants who had no mass media exposure, no education and had high substance abuse, had any adverse pregnancy outcome, who crossed the border more times, faced any harassment at the border, did not have social support at destination and whose husband has ever used alcohol before sex. Ordered Logistic regression shows that the women married above the legal age of marriage (p<0.05), aware about sexual rights (p<0.05) and those who knew about condom (p<0.10) were 50%–60% less likely to experience STI symptoms. Interestingly, women who were aware about STI were 2 times more likely (p<0.05) to report STI symptoms.
Conclusion The findings illustrate the complex tradeoffs that undocumented migration entails for the female migrants. To avert the variety of risks, information about STIs, its preventive measures, condom promotion, increasing age of marriage, combating cross border crime and limiting undocumented migration is detrimental among Bangladeshi female migrants.
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