Ugandan adolescent girls and young women often participate in transactional sex through coercion, researchers found in a new study published in Sexual and Reproductive Health Matters.
Dr. Kirsten Stoebenau, assistant research professor, in the University of Maryland School of Public Health, along with her co-authors found that adolescent girls and young women in Uganda are at risk of early sexual debut, unwanted pregnancy, violence and disproportionately high human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection rates, in part due to the prevalence of sexual coercion and transactional sex.
Researchers conducted 19 focus groups and 44 in-depth interviews with adolescent girls and young women in Central Uganda, who described coercion by money or resources, verbal insistence, poverty or peer pressure to uphold modern lifestyles.
Participants described how receiving gifts could be a reason to forgive a man who forced them to have sex, that they could be deprived of their ability to consent to sex through the use of alcohol, and how sex was a way to gain income or resources to meet their household’s needs.
The findings suggest that support for income-generating activities like microfinance and social protection programs might help reduce Ugandan girls’ and young women’s vulnerability to sexual coercion in transactional sex relationships. Researchers also suggest that targeting gender norms that contribute to unequal power dynamics and social expectations, critically assessing the meaning of consensual sex, and normative interventions may reduce sexual coercion among Ugandan adolescent girls and young women.
Dr. Stoebenau, who is in the Department of Behavioral and Community Health, is an expert in the social determinants of women’s sexual and reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa.Tags: Friday Letter Submission, Publish on March 06