Young Indian women's construction of sexuality and risky sexual behaviour in a Newlands school.
This study explores the sexual identities of a group of young Indian women who are 16 and 17 years old. It also investigates the multiple ways in which these young women give meaning to their sexuality and gendered identities in the context of HIV and AIDS. These young women emerged from working class to low middle class backgrounds in the Newlands West area in Durban. The study sought to understand how the young Indian women construct their sexuality, what these young Indian women understand by sexual risk, as well as how their constructions of sexuality are related to sexual risk. A Social Constructivist model was used to understand how the young women in this study construct their sexualities, particularly in a time of HIV and AIDS. Feminist theory was used as it links gendered identities and social constructions of young women. Focus group and individual interviewing techniques were employed to generate relevant research information. The findings of this study illustrate how some young women offer resistance to accepted gender role norms and cultural beliefs by openly expressing their sexuality. Many of the young women in this study also attempt to explain why they (and others) engage in risky sexual practices, despite their awareness of HIV and AIDS and early pregnancy. The findings reveal that peer pressure is a factor that often strongly influences young women to engage in unprotected sexual activities with their partners. This study also found that fear of experiencing early or unwanted pregnancies deterred many of the young women in this study from engaging in risky sex. Recommendations were made in an attempt to curb the further spread of HIV and AIDS and encourage safer sex practices amongst young people in Durban, KwaZulu-Natal.