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Reproductive Health volume 7Article : 2 Cite this article. Metrics details. Material exchange for sex transactional sex may be important to sexual relationships and health in certain cultures, yet the motivations for transactional sex, its scale and consequences are still little understood. The aim of this paper is to examine young women's motivations to exchange sex for gifts or money, the way in which they negotiate transactional sex throughout their relationships, and the implications of these negotiations for the HIV epidemic.

An ethnographic research de was used, with information collected primarily using participant observation and in-depth interviews in a rural community in North Western Tanzania.

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The qualitative approach was complemented by an innovative assisted self-completion questionnaire. Transactional sex underlay most non-marital relationships and was not, per seperceived as immoral. However, women's motivations varied, for instance: escaping intense poverty, seeking beauty products or accumulating business capital. There was also strong pressure from peers to engage in transactional sex, in particular to consume like others and avoid ridicule for inadequate remuneration. Macro-level factors shaping transactional sex e. Young women actively used their sexuality as an economic resource, often entering into relationships primarily for economic gain.

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Transactional sex is likely to increase the risk of HIV by providing a dynamic for partner change, making more affluent, higher Girls Gambia wanting sex men more desirable, and creating further barriers to condom use. Behavioural interventions should directly address how embedded transactional sex is in sexual culture. Peer Review reports. The exchange of sex for money or gifts in sub-Saharan Africa has been widely reported. It is generally interpreted as a consequence of women's poverty and economic dependence on men e. Many have noted that impoverishment deters women from negotiating safer sex [ 7 — 10 ] and makes younger women vulnerable to the enticements of older men or 'sugar-daddies' [ 39 — 12 ].

However, several detailed studies have suggested that material exchange for sex or 'transactional sex' is not always engaged in through immediate material need. Many Senegalese prostitutes in the Gambia were reported to be from non-impoverished families [ 13 ], while Tanzanian Haya women practising prostitution were reported to be both poor and relatively well-off [ 14 ]. In southern Uganda, secondary school girls were reported to exchange sex to pay for necessities their parents cannot afford, but half those in a qualitative study said that, whatever their affluence, they would not have sex for free.

This would be humiliating since the gift 'rubs off the cheapness of being used' [ 15 ]. In Mwanza, Tanzania, girls are said to negotiate sexual deals to their own advantage [ 16 ], and in Dar es Salaam, many young women who had experienced abortions were found to be 'active social agents, entrepreneurs who deliberately exploit their partner s ' [ 17 ], and no self-respecting woman would have sex for free.

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Hunter argues that transactional sex in KwaZulu-Natal is attributable to gendered material inequalities, a particular construction of masculinity, but also 'the agency of women themselves' [ 3 ], while Leclerc-Madlala [ 18 ] argues that in Durban women see transactional sex as a 'normal' part of sexual relationships motivated to acquire the commodities of modernity. A recent study contrasted policy makers' views of transactional sex in rural Malawi, as driven by survival needs, with the views of the rural women themselves, who said that they are also motivated by attractive consumer goods, passion and revenge [ 19 ].

In a review of both quantitative and qualitative studies of age and economic asymmetries in young women's sexual relationships, Luke concluded that:. The inference that all instances of sexual-economic exchange are inherently demeaning and thus probably involuntary seems to underlie an undifferentiated treatment of the topic in the public health literature. An anthropological review noted the 'predominantly neutral' attitudes to prostitution in sub-Saharan Africa, and 'a relatively instrumental view of sex within marriage It is the filiation of children rather than payment in cash which distinguishes wives, prostitutes and others.

This fits Caldwell et al. The tendency for the issue of sexual exchange to become polarized, in particular given the 'essentialisations' spawned by debate over Caldwell's 'African sexuality' thesis [ 24 ], makes it easy to overlook that there are generally several, overlapping motivations for sex. Although this paper is concerned with material motives, we do not want to suggest that, if they exist, they are to the exclusion of other motives such as physical pleasure, reproduction, self-esteem, love or establishing and maintaining relationships for other non-material reasons. Setel's [ 25 ] ethnography from Kilimanjaro Region, Tanzania, provides a detailed analysis of how these diverse motives shape sexual relationships.

Until the last decade, most research in sub-Saharan Africa on sexual transaction focussed on urban areas and commercial sex work [ 21 ], rather than transactional sex in rural areas, yet the majority of the population are rural. Furthermore, most qualitative research on young people's sexual relationships has been conducted with secondary school students e. Most qualitative studies collected data through group discussions, which may bias findings towards normative beliefs [ 910 ], and we are only aware of two other studies employing any participant observation [ 1819 ].

With quantitative studies the validity of sexual behaviour data is highly problematic [ 103031 ], and must be treated very cautiously. Furthermore, survey questions rarely investigate the type of gifts provided or the context of gift giving [ 10 ]. This means we have little idea about the proportion of relationships that involve transactions, and to what extent the transactions are specific inducements Girls Gambia wanting sex sexual access [ 10 ]. The aim of this paper is to examine young rural women's motivations to exchange sex for gifts or money, the way in which they negotiate transactional sex throughout their relationships, and the implications of these negotiations for the HIV epidemic.

The findings come from an ethnography of young people's sexual behaviour in rural Mwanza Region, northern Tanzania. Most of the data come from participant observation with young people who had not attended secondary school, and most were unmarried. Although we recognise that sexual relationships are complex phenomena influenced by a multitude of factors at macro-social, micro-social, psychological and physiological levels [ 32 ], this paper is restricted almost entirely to social factors. At a macro-level the social factors shaping sexual relationships generally give men Girls Gambia wanting sex power than women and create the material and ideological conditions that encourage transactional sex.

Although interrelated, they can be broadly divided between economic factors, kinship factors and normative factors. At a micro-level the factors shaping the relative bargaining power of potential sexual partners can be divided between their individual attributes, which generally persist over time, and the specific circumstances of a particular sexual encounter.

At this level the different dimensions of power sometimes benefited women. The different levels of influence are summarised below, more space being given to the macro-social factors since the main micro-social factors are presented in the Findings Girls Gambia wanting sex. Economic conditions in sub-Saharan Africa generally give men far greater power than women.

Women rarely hold land in their own right [ 33 ], they generally work much longer hours than men [ 34 ] but largely because of their domestic responsibilities are far less able to sell their labour. Consequently most are economically dependent on men [ 7 ]. The gendered division of labour extends to most areas of work, except for certain farming activities [ 2535 ], and whilst it gives women power in specific spheres [ 36 ], in general it greatly benefits men, which some men recognise [ 7 ].

However, these patriarchal relations have been being eroded for over a century. While the influence of missionaries on marriage patterns is contested [ 37 ], there is no doubt that the increasing dominance of the cash economy has undermined the land or cattle-based power of male elders [ 243638 ]. Men's employment initially reinforced their economic power, but in recent decades contraction of formal employment has left men unable to fulfil their newly acquired 'bread-winner' role, undermining their status as head of household [ 3839 ].

Meanwhile women's entrepreneurial skills and harder work give them an advantage in the informal sector, reducing their economic dependence on men and the rationale for marriage [ 243638 — 40 ]. These social changes are almost certainly at their most advanced in urban areas and may only be starting in rural areas dominated by subsistence farming. Systems of kinship and marriage have been important underlying factors in women's disempowerment [ 33 ].

The Sukuma are very similar to their southern neighbours the Nyamwezi, for whom 'rights in the productive and reproductive capacity of women are in large part controlled by and transferred for payment between men. Bridewealth still determines the nature of marriage, most importantly giving the groom rights to the children, but it also, as in Botswana, 'encompasses the idea that a man has 'paid' for sexual access to the wife' [ 42 ] pg It involves a ificant transfer of wealth, particularly if the bride is young and considered virtuous, typically six cattle or, increasingly, the cash equivalent cf.

Since it is paid by the groom's father to the brides' father, it gives them considerable influence over their children's' unions [ 44 ]. However, with the socio-economic changes eroding patriarchal control, alternatives to formal marriage, such as kutoroshwa elopementhave become increasingly prevalent [ 2545 ], reducing children's economic dependence on parents [ 3646 ]. Furthermore, in the towns and increasingly in rural areas some women feel able Girls Gambia wanting sex make strategic choices not to get married at all [ 3638 — 40 ]. The most relevant social norms relate to women's status and sexual culture.

In general, women are of lower social status and are culturally inhibited from asserting their interests in public [ 733 ]. The predominant sexual culture for young people in rural Mwanza has ly been described in terms of contradictory norms [ 46 ].

These ideal standards of behaviour are not entirely prescriptive but can be seen as resources that can be drawn on to legitimate behaviour. Sexual activity is constrained by norms of school pupil abstinence, female sexual respectability and taboos around the discussion of sex. However, these norms are incompatible with several widely held expectations: that sexual activity is inevitable unless prevented, sex is a female resource to be exploited, restrictions on sexual activity are relaxed at festivals, and masculine esteem is boosted through sexual experience.

Most young people cope with these contradictions by concealing their sexual relationships [ 46 ]: as others have noted elsewhere [ 2437 ], it is generally more important to observe discretion than restrictive sexual mores.

This discretion is a pre-requisite to managing different sexual identities in different social contexts, usefully theorised by Helle-Valle [ 24 ] as 'contextualised dividuality'. Women are greatly concerned to maintain their sexual respectability, and this norm is particularly important in relation to negotiating transactional sex.

As discussed by Helle-Valle [ 42 ] pgit is helpful to recognise that the universal meaning of 'prostitute' as 'the personification of the sexually absolute [ly] immoral', may not fully apply in the same way here. In rural Mwanza, as in Botswana, the linking of sex with money or gifts is in most cases not regarded as immoral, and most of the transactional sex reported in this paper was not regarded by villagers as 'umalaya ' see findings belowbut rather as a normal aspect of any sexual relationship formation, continuation and sustenance.

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Transactional sex as described here, differs from umalaya prostitution because of the perceived or actual selectivity of partners and the perceived moral aspect social respectability. Like malayasome other women chose to have sex with many overlapping partners over time, but they were more discreet and considered themselves selective in who they chose e.

Malaya may instead primarily or only consider the money involved, taking it relatively indiscriminately, including having sex with men they may actively dislike. While these factors structure the broader context for sexual encounters, they also operate at a micro-social level, shaping people's motivations to engage in sexual relationships and the negotiation that occurs within them, sometimes understood in terms of 'interactional competence' [ 3247 ] or in terms of power differentials [ 1048 ].

Potential sexual partners' negotiating power within specific encounters is largely shaped by their individual attributes and their immediate circumstances. For instance, a woman's physical attractiveness and a man's marital eligibility give each greater bargaining power. The extent to which women see themselves as able to negotiate sexual relationships successfully in their own interests is also likely to be critical [ 19 ].

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Circumstantial factors are also important: material need, the threat of physical force or strong affection reduces a woman's bargaining power, while strong affection or intense sexual desire reduces a man's cf.

Furthermore, both parties can be disempowered by their need to present themselves differently in different social realms [ 24 ], for instance young women being potentially sexually available to seducers but having to ensure that they can conceal any sexual experience from their parents. The research reported here complemented a randomised trial of the MEMA kwa Vijana adolescent sexual health programme [ 49 ]. The MEMA Kwa Vijana trial showed marked improvements in knowledge, attitudes and reported sexual behaviour, but not in biological outcomes [ 49 ].

However, the qualitative Girls Gambia wanting sex of which this analysis is part, did not reveal any consistent differences between intervention and control villages in the expression of sexual attitudes or reported behaviour. Any intervention-related reporting biases seem to have been overcome by the establishment of rapport over a long period through participant observation. Data come from participant observation PO in nine villages conducted between andin visits usually lasting seven weeks at a time.

The nine villages were selected from three districts in Mwanza region based on their trial status intervention or comparison and to broadly represent the range of geographic locations roide, interiorethnicity and economic activities farming, mining, and fishing in rural Mwanza. For example, selection of villages 1 and 2 included a pair of multi-ethnic, roide farming villages near a mine, while for villages 3 and 4 focused on remote, dispersed and almost entirely Sukuma villages. Villages were visited for approximately two months during the same seasons each year for three years.

In addition, four multi-ethnic, lakeshore fishing villages nos were visited only once, primarily due to limited time, and one isolated Sukuma farming village no. Farming was the main livelihood in all these villages. Most villages had only one primary school and no secondary school. Five Tanzanians and one Kenyan, aged 21 to 30, conducted the fieldwork, initially staying in villages on their own and then in mixed sex pairs of one Swahili-speaking graduate researcher JW or GM and one Sukuma-speaking non-graduate.

The latter were selected for their ly demonstrated skills as research assistants Girls Gambia wanting sex their fluency in Sukuma, and they were given rigorous qualitative research training. They were not residents of, and had not grown up in, the villages they were researching.

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Transactional sex amongst young people in rural northern Tanzania: an ethnography of young women's motivations and negotiation