Friday, January 22, 2021

Botswana’s bang bang generation turns sex into a game of Russian roulette

BY MPHO KUHLMANN

Bang ÔÇô the youth slang for sexual intercourse which is also onomatopoeia for a gun short is the most appropriate term for a generation that has turned sex into a game of Russian roulette.

A research paper “ Emergency contraceptive knowledge, attitudes and practices among female students at the University of Botswana: A descriptive survey” published earlier this year by Bobby Kgosiemang and Julia Blitz reveals the extent to which sex among Batswana youths has become as dangerous as a loaded gun.

“Unsafe abortion has been a major problem in Botswana, and 13% of maternal deaths are attributed to sepsis and 4.3% specifically to septic miscarriage. The morbidity and mortality report from 2007 to 2011 in Botswana showed that 22% of maternal deaths were attributed to abortion of which 89% were caused by sepsis and 11% from hemorrhage.  These high maternal deaths occur despite all forms of contraception, including EC being free in Botswana.”

Dubbed the ‘pull-out generation’ twenty-something’s are the poster demographic for unprotected sex. They pay their bills, hold down careers but are also taking risks when it comes to sex. A lot of them are ditching contraception and trusting in luck.

Another research paper published four months ago: “Risky Sexual Behavior and Condom Use among Youth in Botswana” by William K.A. Agyei and Tina Abrefa-Gyan has revealed the extent of the pull- out generation’s recklessness when it comes to sex. The paper examined “the risky sexual behavioral patterns and condom use among the young people in Botswana. A multi-stage sampling design was adopted in selecting a sample of 331 (129 males and 202 females) students aged 17-24 years old at the University of Botswana Gaborone, Botswana. The data were collected through a structured self-administered questionnaire. Two-thirds of the sample reported that they were sexually active. Almost half and a quarter of the sexually active respondents had multiple sexual partners and casual sex respectively in the year prior to the study. Also, a third had unprotected sex during the month prior to the survey. Perceived condom use self-efficacy differed among those who had urban verses rural upbringing.

The researchers pointed to “an urgent need to include the avoidance of risky sexual behaviors in the ongoing HIV/AIDS campaign for the young people in Botswana.”

Dr Sethunya Mosime, senior Sociology lecturer at the University Of Botswana says irresponsibility and lack of proper sexual education contribute to young people engaging in unprotected sexual activities. “too many young people either lack good knowledge about sexual health, do not feel empowered enough to ask for contraception or have not learned the skills to negotiate contraceptive use with their partners to protect themselves from unwanted pregnancies or STIs. What young people are telling us is that they are not receiving enough sex education or the wrong type of information about sex and sexuality. It should not come as a surprise then that the result is many young people having unprotected sex and that harmful myths continue to flourish in place of accurate information. The problems also lie where young people are not talking to their parents; they are embarrassed to talk to their parents hence finding all about sex education from their friends and peers.”

The discovery of Anti-retroviral drugs may have helped Botswana fight the HIV/AIDS scourge, but is has also spawned a generation of care free sex. At the height of the HIV/AIDS epidemic in Botswana most sexually active Batswana engaged in safe sex and condom use was prevalent.

The current generation of young adults however grew up when the fear of HIV/AIDS was giving way to the euphoria of the ARV discovery and the campaign to de-stigmatise the disease. The message was that HIV/AIDS is a manageable disease, and most seem to have gotten the message and feel they do not need to protect themselves.

Kgotso Mbaakanyi who works at Peermont, Metcourt Inn in Gaborone says unprotected sex happens very casually with young people.”It starts when you are a teenager and your loving boyfriend suggests you don’t use a condom, because he’ll lose sensitivity. You, being the cool, chilled out kind of girl you’re desperately trying to be, go with it. Once you’ve done it once and survived, you lose the fear. A lot of young people and adults feel that no matter how you color, flavor or add little ribs and dots “for her pleasure”, condoms are a mood killer. Having unprotected sex is one thing, but not getting checked and having unprotected sex when you’re not sure whether you are “clean” or not is quite another.”

Thapelo Thebe who works at Noble Supplies in Gaborone says he like many other people have at some point engaged in unprotected sexual activities.”I’ve had unprotected sex quite a few times, and I used the pull-out method with my former partner. Looking back, I don’t think we even discussed it. Naive as it sounds now, I didn’t really have any worries about STDs or pregnancy. I knew that neither of us had any STDs, and with other people. Unprotected sex happens for several reasons. It may be that you don’t want to stop to put a condom on, sometimes you may be embarrassed to ask your partner, or they may think that you are on the pill. Obviously if you have been drinking, that increases the risk.”

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