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Cult Health Sex. 2011 Jun;13(6):713-25. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2011.571290.

Gender and sexual vulnerability of young women in Africa: experiences of young girls in secondary schools in Uganda.

Author information

1
Department of Women and Gender Studies, Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda. fmuhanguzi@ss.mak.ac.ug

Abstract

Sexuality is part and parcel of students' experiences of schooling manifested in personal friendships, relations and social interaction. These encounters constitute sites within which sexual identities are developed, practiced and actively produced through processes of negotiation. Drawing on qualitative research conducted in 14 selected secondary schools in Central and Western Uganda, the study illuminates gendered sexual vulnerability within patterns of social interaction and young girls gendered experiences and negotiation of their sexuality. The study reveals that through social and discursive practices, students construct complex gendered relations of domination and subordination that position boys and girls differently, often creating gender inequalities and sexual vulnerability for those gendered as girls. Girls' vulnerability is characterised by confusing and traumatic experiences fraught with double standards and silences. Typical of these experiences are complex tensions and contradictions surrounding constructions of sexuality that are predicated upon unequal power and gender relations characterised by homophobia, misogyny, control of female sexuality and sexual abuse and exploitation, all which work against girls' expression of sexuality. Gender sensitive sexuality education is identified as a valuable site of intervention to address such vulnerabilities and promote gender equality and equity in society.

PMID:
21516536
DOI:
10.1080/13691058.2011.571290
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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