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Motives, barriers, and ways of communicating in mother-daughter sexuality communication: a qualitative study of college women in Tanzania

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In Tanzania, young women aged 15–24 are at high risk for HIV and nearly half (45%) of women experience pregnancy or childbirth before age 19. The HIV epidemic has motivated many parents to overcome cultural taboos and talk with their children about sexuality, but few studies in Tanzania have examined how young adults perceive these discussions. In-depth interviews with 31 Tanzanian college women (ages 18–25) reveal how they make sense of sexuality messages from mothers that are sometimes vague, admonishing and fear-based. Participants identified how mothers focused on the health, educational and social consequences of premarital sex and emphasised the avoidance of men as a strategy to maintain virginity. Mothers avoided providing specific information about safer-sex practices, or strategies to negotiate romantic relationships, sexual pressures or sexual desires. Findings offer insight into how relational and cultural contexts influence mothers’ sexual socialisation and can inform education and intervention approaches that consider the changing cultural landscape. Future qualitative research with mothers is recommended to develop programmes that are more responsive to mothers’ and daughters’ needs.
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Keywords: Mother-daughter communication; Tanzania; sex education; sexual health; young people

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Department of Human Development, Washington State University, Pullman, WA, USA 2: Department of Family Social Science, University of Minnesota, St Paul, MN, USA 3: Department of Human Development, Washington State University, Vancouver, WA, USA

Publication date: November 2, 2018

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