Gendered norms, sexual exploitation and adolescent pregnancy in rural Tanzania

Jennifer McCleary-Sills, Zayid Douglas, Annagrace Rwehumbiza, Aziza Hamisi, Richard Mabala. Reproductive Health Matters, 2013; Vol. 21, issue 41 Download publication (not open access)

A participatory research and action project (Vitu Newala) conducted formative research on the dynamics of sexual risk and agency among girls aged 12–17 in a rural district of Tanzania. Four major risk factors undermined girls’ ability to protect their own health and well-being:

  • poverty that pushed them into having sex to meet basic needs
  • sexual expectations on the part of older men and boys their age
  • rape and coercive sex
  • unintended pregnancy

However, the study also found that girls were often stigmatised by family and community members for putting themselves at risk. These findings were used to inform a pilot project aimed to engage and empower adolescent girls and boys as agents of change to influence powerful gender norms that perpetuate girls’ risk.

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