Even though the HIV prevalence rate in the sub Saharan region has been going down in the last ten years, research has shown that it remains higher in women.
Unfortunately, Botswana is no exception to this scenario.
Research has shown that many girls and women in Botswana have not acquired the skills of negotiating for safer sex with their partners. This has been attributed to the cultural setup that, when it comes to sex, women cannot raise their voice to echo what they want.
Some cultures do not allow women to question their husbands and to discuss their feelings and desires.
Even if the wife knows the husband is having an affair outside marriage, culture does not allow her to deny her husband sexual intercourse, worse still to suggest safe sex. It’s high time women wake up and stand for their sexual rights outside of culture.
Poverty has driven women to accept relationships with sugar daddies for convenience’s sake.
Gifts, money and promises of marriage have lured teenage girls into sexual relationships that put them at risk. Mostly, they are given money and gifts in exchange for sexual favours which they feel obliged to give without protection.
In this circumstance, girls feel pressured to go along with it because they fear they might upset their partner if they refuse to have sex or suggest the issue of safer sex.
The high prevalence of STIs and unplanned pregnancies in the tertiary institutions, especially among girls, is reported to be very high. This has impacted negatively on academic performance.
It is high time the female sex has a back bone and stand for their rights.
It is a woman’s reproductive right to make free and informed choices in matters relating to their sexual experience and pleasure.
Women should know that engaging in a relationship does not automatically mean they should have sex with their partner. If they want to abstain and have a platonic relationship, they should know that it is very much acceptable. Even if one was doing it before, it’s their right to choose not to engage in sexual relationships.
Communication in relationships is very essential. Women should be in a position to communicate with their partners to practice safer sex, to use male or female condoms during each sex act even though they have been together for a long time. Also to engage less in ways of sharing affection like kissing, caressing and hugging.
Research has it that the leading cause of HIV infections in Botswana and Sub-Saharan Africa is multiple and concurrent partnerships even in marriages.
Married man and women have long term “trusted” girls and boyfriends whom they sleep with without protection.
These also have their own partners.
One Gaborone woman told The Telegraph that she engages in these multiple and concurrent relationships because, “I can’t afford to feed my family since my husband does not provide for us because he spends his money on other women. So I sleep with other men to get what my family needs.”
This comes as a clear sign that women are still dependent on men for a living.
It’s high time women empower themselves through education. It is time to assist them set up small businesses or some money generating projects to loosen their dependency on men.
It is, therefore, equally important for married women to sit down with their partners and lay down the benefits of using protection and of being faithful to one another. This is not to say men should not negotiate for safer sex, they should take the leading role.
Women must remember that this is a matter of life and death.