Botswana 2009 Botswana 2009  

Abstract #177  -  Community views of inter-generational sex: findings from focus groups in Botswana, Namibia and Swaziland
  Presenting Author:   Mr John Eudes Lengwe Kunda - CIET Trust Botswana
  Additional Authors:  Mr Leagajang Kgakole, Dr Anne Cockcroft, Mr Mokgweetsi Masisi, Ms Ditiro Laetsang, Mr Ari Ho-Foster, Ms Nobantu Marokoane, Dr Neil Andersson,  
Inter-generational sex and the attendant power gradients could be an important driver of the AIDS epidemic in Southern Africa, helping to explain the high incidence of new HIV infections among young women. Studies have examined the views of young women; less is known about the views of the older men. We sought the views of both young women and older men about inter-generational sex.
  Method / Issue:
We conducted focus group discussions with women aged 15-24 years and men aged 40-55 years in urban and rural locations: six female and six male groups in Botswana, three female and three male groups in Namibia, and three female and two male groups in Swaziland. Each group included 5-10 participants; a facilitator led the discussion and a rapporteur took detailed notes.
  Results / Comments:
There was consensus that inter-generational sex is commonplace. Older men mostly described sexual motivation: to make them feel young and vibrant ("it shows your status"), and for sexual pleasure, "tender meat", not associated with older women. They blamed young women for dressing provocatively and seducing them. The young women were clear they had sex with older men to get money, alcohol and material goods. In urban sites they mostly spoke about requirements for a "modern" lifestyle and to keep up with their friends, but in rural sites they also said they needed money to pay school fees and buy food and household goods. Young women mocked the older men and used disparaging names for them, such as "trash" (Botswana), "ATM" (Swaziland), and "My stupid one" (Namibia). Asked about the risks of sex with older men, many young women first mentioned pregnancy and being sued by the wife. In Swaziland and Namibia they mentioned violence from older men. They were well aware of the risk of HIV and believed older men were more risky than younger men: they were more likely to be infected and it was harder to negotiate use of a condom with them. But women were willing to take the risk to get what they wanted or needed from the men and "HIV is everywhere". The older men also believed they ran a higher risk of HIV from younger women than older women, because "they sleep around" and do not insist on using a condom. But this did not deter them: "when you want honey from the bees, they sting but you don't let go before you get the honey".
Older men and young women both perceive important benefits from inter-generational sex. They are aware of the risks, but discount these in comparison with short term benefits. Isolated efforts to increase risk awareness are unlikely on their own to redress this weigh-up. Making older men aware they are often ridiculed by young women may be a more promising approach, especially if combined with structural interventions that give other alternatives to young women.
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