Saturday, February 4, 2012

'Get off the sexual network': Uganda's widespread concurrent sexual partnerships

 'Have you ever seen a man who who does not cheat? Tell me if yours doesn't cheat.All men cheat. But we make sure we do not have kids with those women we sleep with' celebrated Ugandan musician, Bebe Cool, was quoted in a Sunday Vision interview with journalist Carol Kasujja, in the May 6th 2012 edition, when asked to comment on rumours that his wife had left him over alleged infidelity.

The non-regular sexual partners are often called names: 'spare tire', 'side dish', 'away match', 'side mirror..etc.

The very choice of names betrays Ugandans' social acceptance of casual sex. It is in Uganda that you will hear people call sexual intercourse as 'playing sex' . It is like a simple, casual game. Some kind of harmless fun. But it isn't fun.

Concurrent sexual partnerships or a situation where an individual is having more than one sexual partner at the same time is the leading driver of new HIV infections in Uganda- according to the Uganda AIDS Commission.

Ironically,it is married couples or people in stable relationships who are driving up new infections but also who are at a higher risk of HIV infection in Uganda because of reckless sexual behaviour. Married couples in Uganda have more unprotected sex than younger,single people. Married couples' aversion to condoms is legendary.'condoms don't belong in a marital bed' one couple says defiantly.

Today I listened to a lively Saturday morning health talk show on Radio One where this was the topic of debate. Why are Ugandans partial to 'side dishes' to use the tongue-in-chick reference to extra marital sex?

And the panelists were not short of answers. 'Women lose sexual appetite when they grow older,yet mens' libido's doesn't wane with age so a man has to look out for it' a middle aged male caller volunteers.

'Sometimes we women are in our periods and during such times, men should not be made to wait' a female caller volunteers. Ugandans are clearly socially accepting of marital infidelity. Although that is usually skewed in favour of the male gender.

In many Ugandan traditional societies, a man can be culturally granted divorce on account of a wife's infidelity although the reverse is not as easily accepted.

Cheating used to be a preserve for men. But not anymore. 'We now also have the money. When I know my man has a 'side dish', I also revenge and get a young man to satisfy my needs. These days we don't depend on men for money. We have our own money' says Namukasa Jane, 43(Not real name).

Statistics from Uganda AIDS Commission show that males still cheat more than females although the latter are catching up fast.

Uganda which was renown for taming new HIV infection rates in the early 1990s, for the first time, is on the wrong side of global trends which show that that new HIV infections are on a downward spiral even in the most affected countries like South Africa.

Uganda's new annual infection rates are set to reach 150,000 new cases compared to 120,000 cases last year and 100,000 cases in the previous years.


Milton said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.


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Henry Zakumumpa said...

Milton, thanks for the comment! Do come again. I hope to post content every once in a while. Cheers!

Namiiro Leah said...

The time is now for Ugandans to confront issues like HIV with a standard rational reaction and not just substandard shallow approaches....if we still have people who think HIV is like flue then we obviously haven't learnt a thing from our history in regards to HIV and Uganda. the virus is wiping out millions yet we still think its like mere flue....we cant settle for the normal...ALL MEN CHEAT!!!! NO! Lets have people who will become celebs for being the ones who won't cheat like all the rest! that will be a celeb worth the name!