Pilot Ethnographic Study of Wives of Migrants

This study aimed to examine the experiences of the wives of migrant workers in Moscow and to characterize their HIV/AIDS risk and protective knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors (Golobof et al, in press). This was a collaborative ethnography in Dushanbe that included minimally structured interviews with 30 wives of migrant workers currently working in Moscow. The results documented the wives’ concerns over their husbands’ safety and health in Moscow and the many difficulties of wives living without husbands in Tajikistan. Wives give tacit acceptance to husband’s sexual infidelity in Moscow. In a male-dominated society, gender norms limit wives abilities to protect themselves or their husbands. They have limited awareness of HIV, limited ability to speak about sexual activity, HIV/AIDS and condoms, or to request HIV testing. Wives do not use condoms with their husbands and have no choice but to depend upon their husband’s role as protector. Wives turn to their in-laws or to their “circle of friends” for support, but seldom do these relationships focus on HIV/AIDS. To respond to HIV/AIDS risks amongst the wives of Tajik male migrant workers in Moscow, preventive interventions should consider enhancing knowledge amongst wives and seeking feasible ways to empower wives to talk with their husbands about HIV/AIDS risk and protection.


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