YOUNG PEOPLE’S PERCEPTIONS OF SEX AND RELATIONSHIPS IN NORTHERN NAMIBIA
This paper examines conceptions of gender identity and gender relations among youth in rural northern Namibia to see whether or not real life practices are meeting the requirements of legislationthat supports gender equality including the right to work in all spheres for equal pay and benefits, discouragement ofgender-based violence and marginalization, and equality with regard to property inheritance. More specifically, we describe the attitudes and behaviour regarding sex and male/female relationships among these youth. Qualitative research methods based on focus group discussions (FGD) were the core of the data collection techniques in this exploratory study. Our findingsindicate that male respondents feel that males are superior to females. Both 15- to 19-year old and 20- to 24-year-old boys confirmed this. Girls affirm this finding but feelings of inferiority were more marked among girls aged 15 to 19 than among 20 to 24 year olds. All these groups regard sexual intercourse as normal, contributing to a sense of powerlessness when girls are in the presence of boys. Males initiate sexual behaviour (as it is culturally unacceptable for females to do so) and seem to have many more partners than girls. The gap between existing laws and what is culturally desirable (in sex practices) seems real and must be addressed in extended sex education forums whose curriculum challenges long held cultural beliefs aboutmasculinity and femininity.
International Journal of Child, Youth & Family Studies
© University of Victoria
Victoria, BC Canada
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