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An exploration of schooling mothers’ constructions of sexuality in the context of HIV and AIDS.

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This study explores how African schooling mothers construct sexuality in the context of HIV/AIDS. This is a qualitative research study that focused on schooling mothers from Nkosinathi High School (pseudonym) a local high school in Ndwedwe. It investigated what schooling mothers understand about risky behaviours and the reasons they give for engaging in risky behaviours in this era of HIV/AIDS. It furthermore aimed to understand how constructions of sexuality are related to sexual risk. The data was collected from the ten participants who were purposively chosen for this study. Semi-structured interviews were used in order to gather relevant rich data. The theoretical frameworks that were used as the lens to analyse data in this study was Gender Power theory and Social Constructionism. The findings are first that participants are aware of sexually risky behaviours and HIV/AIDS. From the discussion, though, it was clear that peer pressure was one of the contributing factors that led most participants to engage in risky behaviours. Others mentioned the importance of keeping their partners happy by being available when they need them for sex. Furthermore, their partners do not want to use a condom, as it may suggest that they do not trust them. Participants indicated that the society has placed a huge emphasis on materiality. Coming from poor backgrounds, they try by all means to gain access to materiality the only way they know how, which is by engaging in risky behaviours and being in relationships with older men who can provide them with money. Secondly, even though they have children, they are still adolescents who are at the phase where they want and need to belong. Wanting to fit in drives these young women to do almost anything to be seen relevant by their peers. Some drew attention to the lack of proper family structure and parental love that in some cases has an influence on how they behave. Furthermore, love and trust seems to be synonymous when these young women talk about their relationships. For them, being in a relationship automatically means being in love and trusting their partners, which justifies not asking for condom usage during sexual intercourse.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.