Dar es Salaam. A study carried out among the youth in Dar es Salaam shows that adolescents who indulge in alcohol use have ended up in sexual encounters, preferring to go to guest houses and rented rooms because they believe there is convenience, comfort and ready availability of condoms.
Researchers say the alcohol context in Tanzania, as in many sub-Saharan African countries, remains less studied, despite data indicating heavy episodic drinking (21 per cent males; 14 per cent females) among Tanzanians.
The findings are published online in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
The latest study, conducted by experts from Columbia Mailman School of Public Health and the Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences (Muhas), has shed light on the factors that influence young people’s access to and use of alcohol, and subsequent engagement in safe or unsafe sexual behaviours.
The lead author of the study, Marni Sommer, an associate professor of Sociomedical Sciences at Columbia Mailman School said the study aimed to understand the spaces in which young people are engaging in sex after drinking alcohol.
Further, said Sommer, they aimed to find “the ways in which space[where they practise sex] is influenced by social and cultural perspectives and the economic realities of their lives and, that in turn, influence their likelihood of using condoms in such contexts.”
The researchers explored the experiences and perspectives of 177 adolescent girls and boys in and out of school in four sites across Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.
The researchers conducted interviews with adolescents as well as adults; mapping alcohol density outlets and advertising around schools and youth centers, and participatory activities conducted with adolescent boys and girls in and out of school.
Very frequently described spaces for sex after alcohol included guesthouses and rented rooms--both articulated as spaces more likely to be used when there was some advance planning or preparation with regard to the likelihood of a sexual encounter after drinking. Young people revealed to researchers that the spaces were preferred for their convenience, comfort, and for the ready availability of condoms. By contrast, youth described a range of situations in which they might have sex after drinking and no condoms would be available, such as cars, toilets in bars, the beach, classrooms after school, and alleys.
Young people described gendered norms around adolescent girls’ ability to be away from home, with the expectation that they return to their houses by a certain hour, added an additional pressure of time that pushed for more rushed sex in whatever convenient spaces might exist after drinking.
Poor youth may also be more likely to engage in “rushed sex” due to cost of safer spaces, such as guesthouses.