Exploring sexuality and risk amongst coloured high school girls in an era of HIV and AIDS.
This study explores constructions of sexuality and understandings of sexual risk amongst a group of Coloured high school girls in Durban, South Africa. In this study qualitative research was employed, as the aim is to obtain meanings of participants’ experiences. The study focused on Coloured high school girls between the ages of 16 to 18 years. The participants were from a local school in the area of Wentworth, as this was the research site. The study investigated the reasons for Coloured girls engaging in risky behaviour in an era of HIV and AIDS. It also sought to unearth their understandings of risky behaviour and how this impacted on their constructions of sexuality. The theory of social construction was used as the elements of this theory converged with the relevance of the study, whereby ideologies we believe to be inherent are socially constructed. For example, people who are Coloured by race are often categorised as people who enjoy partying and drinking alcohol and lack morals, but this is not of genetic origin, it is a social construct. The interpretive paradigm was elected in order to make meaning of participants’points of view. The methods of data collection were through the use of focus group discussions and semi- structured individual interviews. The focus group discussions provided the opportunity for participants to discuss in an open forum, allowing them to challenge responses through either agreement or disagreement. In the individual interviews participants were allowed to be honest and candid in their responses. The interviews provided rich, authentic data as they produced information from personal experiences as well as observations of peers. In the findings, participants expressed their knowledge of risky behaviour. They gave possible reasons for young Coloured women continuing to engage in risky behaviour despite having vast knowledge of the risks involved, especially since we live in an era of HIV and AIDS. It was also found that these young women felt that they could assert agency in relationships and not conform to practices of male dominance. The findings also revealed a lack of knowledge of some participants with regard to sexuality. They believe that gaps exist and should be addressed in order for them to make informed decisions.