The Dynamics of Intergenerational Sexual Relationships: The Experience of Schoolgirls in Botswana
September 18, 2007
"Studies conducted in several sub-Saharan African countries have revealed that women and girls engage in intergenerational sexual relationships without the protection of condoms, giving cause for concern about HIV transmission. These relationships often occur against the girls' will and for many reasons, including reasons associated with subsistence. However, some young women do act as active social agents who rationally engage in intergenerational sexual exchanges oriented towards consumption," explained the study authors, who sought to examine the dynamics of intergenerational sexual relationships among schoolgirls in Botswana.
Fifteen girls who were currently in such a relationship were interviewed in-depth. The authors then examined the social, cultural, and economic factors that cause young girls to engage in the relationships and how intergenerational sex contributes to unsafe sexual practices.
The findings showed that not all girls were passive and controlled by their older sex partners. For some, these sexual relationships imparted pleasure, enjoyment, love, and equal partnership. These girls displayed a capacity to take charge of their own sexual lives by insisting on and engaging in safe-sex behaviors. Another set of girls, however, had little or no decision-making power. Their relationships were characterized by coercion and manipulation. For this group, negotiating condom use was difficult.
"Effective policy and practice can be informed by the findings, leading to a reduction in HIV transmission as a result of intergenerational sex. In particular, the study has drawn attention to girls who are able to assert themselves within intergenerational sexual relationships and successfully negotiate safe sex," the authors concluded. "These strategies can be incorporated in programs to assist girls who face challenges and difficulties in negotiating safe sex with older men."
8.2007; Vol. 4; No. 3: P. 181-187; Josephine Nkosana; Doreen Rosenthal
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This article was provided by U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It is a part of the publication CDC HIV/Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update. Visit the CDC's website to find out more about their activities, publications and services.