During a training session on social phenomena, the teacher encouraged us to develop the art of asking the right questions to find good answers. One of the issues that arose was “How can we explain the high rate of HIV/AIDS among married people?”. During my investigations concerning opinions of 16 people representing 6 men and 10 women from or living in Canada, the USA, Cameroon, Burundi, Uganda and Kenya, I was able to see the role that beliefs play in the sex lives of married persons during pregnancy. However, the results cannot be generalized, and the information was collected in real time during participatory observation between December 2015 and March 2016.
Physiological changes in pregnancy, often leads a woman to think she is ugly and less attractive to her husband; increasingly, attention is focused on the growing baby than her husband. There is also, in women, a change in sexual desire. Sometimes frustrating for the husband who manifests what I call the “paternal jealousy syndrome“; the frequency of intimacy decreases and could affect the longterm sexual life of future parents. How is this embarrassing situation managed?
- For some couples, it presents an opportunity for dialogue during pregnancy. If the husband and wife go together for medical visits and attend all the ante and postnatal counseling sessions together, the husband can understand his wife and the woman in turn her husband.
- For others, cultural considerations are very strong … Sexual activity remains fairly taboo part in many cultures, and it impressed me to understand how some cultures manage this aspect of women during pregnancy and especially how to make the link with HIV upsurge in families.
|Cultural practices||Sex to prepare the arrival of the baby||The women of pregnancy|
|Representativity||Canada, USA, Cameroon, Kenya||Burundi, Uganda, Cameroon, Kenya|
Sex to prepare the arrival of the baby. This view shared by some sexologists and most of Canadians, Americans, Cameroonians and Kenyans participants states that sexual activity during pregnancy contributes to the emotional development of the child and helps to strengthen the feeling of security among women. In addition, sex during pregnancy would facilitate labour and faster delivery of the baby . The advantage is that sex life is maintained, at least as much as possible until delivery, waiting 1 to 3 months (Catherine Solano , 2009) of “sexual weaning” for the man after childbirth …
The women of pregnancy. This is a cultural practice acknowledged by Burundians,Ugandans,Cameroonians and Kenyans participants that allows the man to sleep with another woman in order to avoid suffering due to lack of sex with his wife during pregnancy and after the delivery. It is so serious that it is the community who will be responsible for finding the woman if the man is out of ideas. Surprisingly according to this belief, women are part of the social game and are not disturbed by the idea that their husband sleeps with another woman. Certainly the sexual tension is reduced but we can question the sexual health of the “woman of pregnancy” that does not have its first “marriage of pregnancy.” Besides for man, there could be as many “women of pregnancy” than children in the home. The critical point is that the man resumes his sexual activity with his wife after 1 or 3 months of “sexual weaning” .If the “woman of pregnancy” is HIV positive and that protection was not used, the husband will be infected and subsequently, his wife also.
Having considered the second point of view, I thought I had a partial explanation to the problem presented by the teacher. Pushing his question further, I wondered how to work on behavior change to reduce the impact of cultural practices on the spread of HIV? Moreover, the socio-cultural patterns in communities have standardized these practices to the point that it is difficult to accept that loyalty to one sexual partner is possible.
Should we intensify education sessions on social cultural norms that facilitate the spread of HIV in schools; engage parents in communities or make sure that public health experts actually do their work of informing and educating couples?
You can be part of this by forwarding this message to a friend family. Your comment will help us know more about sexual cultural practices during pregnancies in your community.
Keywords: Sexual Cultural Practices, HIV/AIDS, Paternal Jealousy Syndrome, Sexual Weaning, Women of Pregnancy.
By Hervé-Boris NGATE,Masters Intercultural Studies