Sexual Practices and Levirate Marriages of Zambia

Sexual Practices of Zambia

Sexual Practices of Zambia

Researchers review sexual practices of 2 Zambia area communities of Mansa District.  The purpose of the study is to help understand patterns and local views of sexual behavior in light of the AIDS/HIV pandemic.  Sexual cleansing, levirate marriages and other marriage customs were reviewed.  Researchers also wanted to learn how locals viewed the HIV and AIDS epidemic; understanding their perspective and how it affects their cultural beliefs and traditions.

A June 2000 estimate claims over 800,000 Zambians over age 15 were living with AIDS or HIV, according to the National AIDS Council.  When the study was conduct, a variety of methods were used to collect information, including Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA) that comprised of personal interviews and group discussions.  The study showed more people are aware of AIDS/HIV with it having an effect on marriage customs.  At least 350 people participated and provided information.  Almost half of those who participated were female.

While some changes have been made in regards to marriage customs and practices, poverty has also been an issue, as it has had a negative effect on helping marriages stay stable.  An example includes the ability to maintain basic needs such as food and shelter.  Many women claim they have had to engage in transactional sex or marital infidelity during times of unemployment, even at a young age.  Some marriage practices still exist such as dry sex.  Women say they still practice this just to please their husband.  Yet, some men claim they would divorce or leave their wives if the act was refused or not completed.

Many men and women engage in risky sexual practices which have led to the rise of AIDS and HIV cases.  Some women say that because of having a demanding husband, it has made their sexual situations difficult when suggesting the male should wear a condom.  Women may want their mate to wear protection if they suspected the man was with more than one woman.  Having same-sex partners wasn’t something that was common, while homosexuality was considered on the rise.  Many who provided details say people as young as 9 would begin having sex.  Girls may get married by age 12, yet they were expected to be chaste until reaching that age.

About 30 percent of teens under the age of 19 had children or were expecting. There has been a high percentage of teens getting pregnant before marriage.  Yet, the presence and knowledge in relation to HIV and AIDS does seem to slow down or make certain teens turn away from sex.  Sexual relations considered extra-nuptial were higher among men, and against young girls and women who were vulnerable.   There are religious groups helping to raise awareness for safe sex, but various types of sexual relations and relationships, such as polygamy, continue to be a problem.

Multiple findings have led to the proposal of concepts for intervention including continuing efforts to raise awareness of such risky practices and how to change gender inequality issues due to men playing dominate leading roles in their relationships.