First International Conference of Young Urban Researchers (FICYUrb)
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Sandra Manuel

Temptations of the city: Dynamics of sex in youth dating-relationships

Sandra Manuel
Department of Archeology and Anthropology, University Eduard

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     Last modified: March 16, 2007
     Presentation date: 06/11/2007 2:30 PM in ISCTE-II C202
     (View Schedule)

Post-colonial and post socialist youth in Mozambique has undergone different socio-economic and political changes. This study explores how youth in Maputo city – the capital of Mozambique – construct and live their sexuality in the different kinds of relationships they get involved in. Ethnographic data reveals a dichotomy in the approaches to sexuality in relation to the two main kinds of relationships: steady and occasional relationships. While in steady relationships (namoro) sex is associated with love and respect; in occasional ones, sex is linked to experimentation and desire.

In namoro (steady) relationships there is a tendency for an interaction between the partners and each others’ relatives, especially between the young woman – namorada – and the young man’s relatives. Such family intimacy together with the public exposure of the relationship and the usual serious character of the relationship help to construct a scenario of trust and endure the love that partners declare to each other. Due to such trustworthy environment in namoro relationship the sexual act takes the form of unprotected sex – “real sex” (as referred to by the young people interviewed in this study). Here, sex is reciprocated by the exchange of the gift of love and the proposition of commitment on the part of the young man. At this juncture, there are major possibilities for HIV/AIDS infection as: on the one hand, serial monogamy is a common practice and, on the other hand, with occasional partners protected sex is not always practiced.

In both kinds of relationships, sex was described by informants in terms of a model of heterosexual penetration in a context where the initiation of sexual activity is regarded as a transition to a new stage of life - adulthood - bypassing parental and other senior kins peoples’ control. By verbalizing their sexual desires and pleasures as well as their multiple sexual partners, young women are redefining the “traditional” gender roles of the wider society through their sexual practices, concepts and narratives.

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