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 Table of Contents  
Year : 2021  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 225-231

Factors determining sexual behaviour amongst siddi tribe migrating to Udupi district, India: A cross-sectional study

1 Department of Public Health, K S Hegde Medical Academy, Nitte (Deemed to be University), Mangalore, Karnataka, India
2 Department of Community Health, Nitte (Deemed to be University), Mangalore, Karnataka, India
3 Department of Community Medicine, A.J. Institute of Medical Sciences and Research Centre, Mangalore, Karnataka, India

Date of Submission11-Jul-2021
Date of Decision28-Jul-2021
Date of Acceptance03-Aug-2021
Date of Web Publication22-Oct-2021

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Mackwin Kenwood Dmello
Department of Public Health, K S Hegde Medical Academy, Nitte (Deemed to be University), Mangalore - 575 018, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/npmj.npmj_606_21

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Background: Afro-Indians, locally known as Siddi, are the tribal community descended from the Bantu populace from eastern Africa found in Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka along the Indian west coast. This study determines knowledge, attitude and sexual behaviour amongst the Siddi population in the Udupi district. Materials and Methods: A cross-sectional study was conducted from October 2018 to September 2019; men and women aged above 18 years who lived in the locality at the time of the survey were included in the study. Results: A total of 108 Siddi individuals participated in this study. The mean age of the respondents was 31.8 ± 9.5 years. More than half (51.8%) of the respondents received information on sexual matters through friends. Awareness regarding the usage of condoms and other preventive measures was poor (34.7%). Around 65.7% of the respondents felt that sex education in school encourages sex amongst youngsters. The mean age at the first sexual intercourse amongst men and women was 20.3 years and 16.2 years, respectively. About 18.7% of the respondents had sex with a new partner in the migrated place within the last 1 month, of which 80% were married. Only 5% of the respondents used condoms while indulging in sex with a new partner at the migrated place. Factors such as age at marriage, age at the first sexual act and attitude towards sexual activity were significantly associated with a new sex partner at the arrival site. Conclusion: There is a high prevalence of unsafe sexual practices amongst the migrated Siddi tribe at the place of destination. This poses the risk of sexually transmitted infections amongst the migrant tribes and local communities at the place of destination and the location of origin. The study finding shows that measures should be taken to create awareness, and change in attitude towards sexual matter should be channelised at an early age amongst the Siddi population.

Keywords: Afro-Indian tribe, nomad, risky sexual behaviour

How to cite this article:
Dmello MK, Kumar S, Badiger S, Purushottam J. Factors determining sexual behaviour amongst siddi tribe migrating to Udupi district, India: A cross-sectional study. Niger Postgrad Med J 2021;28:225-31

How to cite this URL:
Dmello MK, Kumar S, Badiger S, Purushottam J. Factors determining sexual behaviour amongst siddi tribe migrating to Udupi district, India: A cross-sectional study. Niger Postgrad Med J [serial online] 2021 [cited 2022 Nov 29];28:225-31. Available from: https://www.npmj.org/text.asp?2021/28/3/225/328778

  Introduction Top

Afro-Indians, locally known as Siddi, are the tribal community descended from the Bantu populace from eastern Africa found in Goa, Gujarat and Karnataka along the Indian west coast. In Karnataka, this ethnic group inhabits Dharwad and Uttara Kannada districts. The Union Government of India recognised Siddi as scheduled tribes in 2003 to empower them constitutionally. Across India, there are almost 50,000 Siddi, of which 10,477 are located in Uttara Kannada district of Karnataka.[1] In a year, approximately 150 Siddi do circular migration to Udupi district from neighbouring Uttara Kannada district. The globe in the present century faces several emerging threats in climate change, pollution, violence, lack of education and health, and unemployment which are closely associated with migration.[2],[3] The impact of immigration on public well-being depends on the background burden of diseases and overall immunity and individual health behaviour and uptake of disease prevention and health promotion activities. The risk of illness and health outcomes in the migrant population is influenced by the various behavioural and socioeconomic determinants of health.[4] Although health conditions and illnesses can be linked with changes in disease patterns, the behaviour of the migrant population can also pose many health risks to the host population.[5]

Globally, the epidemiology of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) is closely linked to the dynamics of migration. Human mobility in search of employment is frequent in low- and middle-income countries and India. Studies from sub-Saharan Africa and Asia also show that migration and multipartner sexual relationship is closely related to the prevalence of STI/HIV infection.[6],[7],[8],[9],[10],[11],[12],[13],[14],[15] Factors such as isolation, social exclusion and poverty in newly arriving migrants have led to high-risk behaviours and ill health at their migrated place. Males who migrate in single tend to have a high risk of sexual behaviour than those living with their family and are less mobile.[16] Studies show that migrant workers having a physical relationship with more than one partner and being infected with HIV directly link the spread of an epidemic, suggesting risky behaviour at the workplace.[17],[18],[19],[20],[21] Alcohol use and migration are significant contributing factors for high-risk behaviour and the spread of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).[9] Hence, the migrant population, mainly circular migration, acts as a bridge population in the spread of STDs from the high-risk group to the general population.[22] There is a well-documented link or association between migration and STIs, yet the social and behavioural mechanism underlying this relationship is poorly understood. Since there are no studies conducted on this, it is essential to ascertain the sexual behaviour of the Siddi tribe at the place of arrival.

  Materials and Methods Top

A community-based descriptive cross-sectional study was conducted amongst the Siddi population in the Udupi district from October 2018 to September 2019. Since there is no actual population size, a complete 1 year was taken to recruit the respondents. As this was hard to reach community (staying in the hamlet at a different location in rented houses), a total of 108 Siddi were recruited through snowball sampling, a chain referral method. Siddi who resided in the study area for a month were consecutively approached for willingness to participate. [Figure 1] shows the history of migration of the Siddi tribe and study location. Participants were administered a structured, pre-tested survey questionnaire that included measures of sociodemographics, attitude and practice towards risky sexual behaviour questions were adopted from the National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyle (Natsal), the United Kingdom, with prior permission. A self-administered pre-tested structured questionnaire was used as a tool for data collection. The questionnaire was translated into the vernacular language (Kannada) for convenience and easy understanding amongst participants. The questionnaire was customised to the study setting by conducting a pre-test involving twenty samples of local tribes working in a similar profile but not migrated. The expert committee validated the translated questionnaire, which included two experts familiar with the construct of interest and both forward and backward translators. The reliability of the questionnaire was tested using Cronbach's alpha, and a coefficient of 0.711 was achieved. The poll was administered in a private area of the house to maintain confidentiality.
Figure 1: Map showing history of migration and study area

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The questionnaire was divided into two parts; the first part of the survey involved sociodemographic data about the participants. In the second part, the factors related to risk behaviours such as multiple sexual partners, last sexual contact and condom treatment accessibility related to STIs were involved. Descriptive statistics were used to summarise the dependent and independent variables. The analysis was done using SPSS version 20 (Released 2011.IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Armonk, NY, USA: IBM Corp). Necessary permissions were obtained from the tribal district office, Udupi and Institutional Review Board and Ethics Committee, K S Hegde Medical Academy (Ref: INST. EC/EC/38/2016-17, Date of approval: February 23, 2016) before the conduct of the study.

  Results Top

A total of 108 Siddhi individuals participated in this study. The mean age of the respondents was 31.8 ± 9.5 years, most 50 (46.3%) of them being in the age group of 25–34 years. The majority of the respondents were male, 92 (85.2%), and were married, 79 (73.1%). More than half of the respondents, 60 (56.6%), have been doing circular migration for 5 years, and 69 (63.8%) respondents had come along with their families. Most 58 (53.7%) of the respondents were practicing circular migration from Yellapur, followed by 20 (18.5%) from Haliyal town of Uttar Kannada district. Nearly 38 (41.3%) males and 5 (31.2%) have completed higher school. The main reason for migration was the working opportunities, and the majority of the respondents engaged in daily housework (56.5%) followed by logging (36.1%). On average per capita, the respondent's regular income (per capita income) was ₹ 556 ± 115 per day. Amongst the respondents, 51.9% were currently consuming alcohol, 48.1% presently chewing tobacco and 5.6% currently smoking tobacco [Table 1].
Table 1: Socio-demographic variables

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[Table 2] depicts the information about STIs amongst the Siddi tribe. The study showed that friends were the primary source of information about sexual matters to 56 (51.8%) respondents, followed by television/radio to 22 (20.4%). The majority, 101 (93.5%), of the participants were aware of the meaning of risky sexual behaviour. Most 67 (62%) of the respondents defined having sexual intercourse with commercial sex workers as risky sexual behaviour, followed by 54 (50%) respondents considering having sex with multiple sex workers as risky sexual behaviour. In comparison, 7 (6.5%) did not know the meaning of the same. For 57 (56.4%), unwanted pregnancy resulted from risky sexual behaviour, followed by HIV/AIDS for 44 (43.6%) respondents. All 44 (100%) of the respondents said that HIV/AIDS is transmitted through sexual intercourse, followed by 19 (43.2%) through blood transfusion. When asked about the measures to protect oneself from risky sexual behavior, the respondents reported that practicing monogamy 60 (59.4%), using emergency contraceptive pills after sexual intercourse 57 (56.4%) and condom usage 35 (34.7%) was enough to protect oneself from risky sexual behavior.
Table 2: Information on sexual matters

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[Table 3] shows that the majority, 77 (71.3%), of the respondents disagreed with the concept of having extramarital relations, while 29 (26.9%) felt that having sex with someone without loving them is all right. The majority, 80 (74.1%), of the respondents agreed that youngsters are under a lot of pressure to have sex, while 88 (81.5%) agreed that there is too much talk on sex in media. Most 66 (61.1%) of the respondents agreed that men's sexual drive is more than women, and 87 (80.5%) agreed to the notion of having sex at a significantly younger age. Over half, 71 (65.7%), agreed that sex education in school encourages sex amongst youngsters, and 75 (69.4%) felt that interest in sex decreases as age increases. The majority of the respondents, 74 (68.5%), agreed that condom reduces sexual pleasure.
Table 3: Attitude of the respondents towards sex

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[Table 4] shows the pattern of the sexual practice of the study population. Almost 93 (86.1%) respondents reported that they were engaged in sexual intercourse, of which 27 (29.0%) had their first sexual act below the age of 18 years. The mean age of the first sexual intercourse amongst males was 20.3 years and females was 17.2 years, respectively. About 49 (53.3%) of the respondents had sex in the arrival place for the last 1 month, and amongst whom, 20 (21.7%) of the respondents had a new sexual partner, and 12 (24.5%) had more than one sexual partner. Amongst respondents who had sex with a new partner, four (20%) revealed that they were engaged with sexual activity with a paid sex worker. The use of condoms was only amongst 1 (5%) of the respondents who had sex with a new partner at arrival place.
Table 4: Pattern of Sexual practice among the respondents

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[Table 5] and [Table 6] show the factors determining the respondent's risky sexual behaviour. Respondents' characteristics such as age at marriage, source of first information on sexual matters, attitude towards sexual activity and age at the first sexual activity were significantly associated with having a new sex partner at arrival place and a total number of sexual partners (P < 0.05). In contrast, factors such as gender, marital status, duration of circular migration, education, occupation and alcohol consumption were not associated with risky sexual behaviour.
Table 5: Factors determining the want for new sex partner amongst the respondents at the place of arrival (n=49)

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Table 6: Factors determining the sexual behavior amongst the respondents (n=92)

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  Discussion Top

Migration, mainly circulatory along with high-risk sexual behaviour, has a tremendous impact on national health. Since this population is challenging to track and is not in contact with the destination health centre, any health awareness/health programme is challenging to organise. Circulatory migration is responsible for a significant proportion of STIs, leading to increased susceptibility to malignancy and HIV infections. Married men migrating in search of work leave a spouse at the native place with the highest sexual risk behaviour.[16] Around 23.1% of people in the present study had an education level below the lower primary, in line with a survey conducted amongst the non-tribal migrated population in Mumbai. In National Family Health Survey (NFHS) 4 data, 44.4% of tribes have completed up to 6 standards.[23],[24] Siddhi population in the study district had migrated in search of employment as a daily household worker (59.3%) and logging (33.2%), while in a study conducted in Uttar Pradesh, 21.1% of the migrant population were working in the construction field.[25]

In the present study, almost 52% of the Siddhi migrant population consumed alcohol. In a multicentric study conducted amongst non-tribal migrants in India, 62% of the population consume alcohol.[13] Male alcohol consumption was 57.6%, whereas females were around 18.8%, which was similar to a study conducted amongst the non-tribal migrant population in Thane where 12.1% of females and 41.9% of males had access to alcohol.[26] Only 43.6% of the Siddhi respondents knew about HIV as a STI, whereas NFHS-4 report showed that in an Indian tribe, 64% of males and 79.8% of women were aware of HIV.[24] A study conducted in Delhi stated that electronic mass media (67%) was the prime source for sexual information amongst rural and urban non-tribal participants. In this study, 56 (51.8%) of the participant got sexual information from their friends.[27]

The current study documents that 29.3% of the population (with 27.3% of males and 40% of females) had their first sexual act within 18 years, and 2.2% of the Siddhi population had sex before attaining 15 years of age. The NFHS-4 finding shows that 1% and 3% of tribal males and females had sex before reaching 15.[24] The present study reported that 13% of the males had more than one sexual partner, while NFHS-4 reported that 2.4% of male tribes have multiple sexual partners. About 6.5% of the participants had ever visited paid sex worker either in native place or destination, which was less than the study conducted in Andhra Pradesh (14.6%) and Uttar Pradesh (19.4%), respectively, and 1.3% in the report by NFHS-4.[23],[24],[28] In this study, 5% of the respondents used a condom in the last 1 month during casual sex. In comparison, in the NFHS-4 report, only 3.1% of the tribal community used a condom during last intercourse; however, in a study conducted in Uttar Pradesh, 48% of the non-tribal migrant population used condoms consistently.[24],[25]

  Conclusion Top

There is a lack of information on STI and an unfavourable attitude towards risky sexual behaviour amongst the Siddi tribes. Although 20% of the study population had a new sex partner in the last month, only 5% of them used a condom as a safety measure. The study's finding shows that efforts to improve the awareness and change in attitude towards sexual matter should be channelised at an early age amongst the Siddi population by the health department and tribal welfare departments.

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There are no conflicts of interest.

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  [Figure 1]

  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6]

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