Intimacy revealed: Sexual experimentation and the construction of risk among young people in Mozambique

Abstract

The expanding AIDS epidemic in Mozambique is fuelled principally by heterosexual transmission, with young people identified as a key group for prevention efforts. However, little is known about the sexual behaviour of young people in Mozambique and the protective practices they adopt. This paper seeks to identify the contexts and rules governing sexual risk-taking among young people in Maputo. In doing so, the paper affirms the importance of context in understanding risk practices, but highlights the fluidity of practice as an important limitation for the use of contextual analysis in prevention interventions. By focusing on one innovation, the saca cena one-night stand, this paper shows how a subgroup of young people in Maputo has redefined a “risky” sexual practice to include exclusive condom use. As a risk context, the saca cena dictates a set of implicit rules emphasizing anonymity, discretion, verbal and non-verbal cues, and for a set of select innovators, condom use. The saca cena challenges the hegemonic gender roles found among many young people in Maputo of male dominance through sexual conquest and female acquiescence. Instead, the practice allows young people to be both adventurous and responsible. The discourse demonstrates how sexual identities have been redefined to combine risk reduction with sexual experimentation and the satiation of desire.

Citation

A. S. Karlyn. Intimacy revealed: Sexual experimentation and the construction of risk among young people in Mozambique. Culture Health and Sexuality (2005) 7 (3) 279-292. [DOI: 10.1080/13691050412331334362]

Intimacy revealed: Sexual experimentation and the construction of risk among young people in Mozambique

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