"They Just Whisper in Their Hearts That He's Doing a Bad Thing": A qualitative study of tanzanian perceptions of cross-generational sex

Michelle Kaufman, Alyssa Mooney, Najmeh Modarres, Susan Mlangwa, Anna Mccartney-Melstad, Adiel Mushi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


HIV prevalence among young Tanzanian women is twice that of men, and risk doubles if a partner is ten or more years older. Cross-generational sex (CGS) is typified by transactions, economic asymmetries, power differentials, and inconsistent condom use. By investigating perceptions of CGS in families, schools, and communities, this study explored the role each plays in addressing or condoning CGS and where interventions are needed. Qualitative data were collected in Tanzania's Iringa and Pwani regions after a campaign to reduce CGS. Community leaders suggested key informants and provided household lists used to randomly select participants. Individual interviews were conducted with 20 women (M age = 20.7, SD = 3.1, range = 15 to 26) and 20 men (M age = 37.1, SD = 7.3, range = 30 to 56), focus groups with 15 women (M age = 20.4, SD = 2.9, range = 17 to 25) and 26 men (M age = 39.2, SD = 7.9, range = 30 to 55), and key informant focus groups with 10 women (M age = 47.6, SD = 10, range = 37 to 70) and 16 men (M age = 55.5, SD = 9.5, range = 37 to 67). CGS was viewed as detrimental to girls' education and a financial loss to parents, but barriers, including reluctance to approach parents and older men, prevented community action. Interventions may involve community leaders transcending restrictions on confronting older men and promoting communication between teachers, communities, parents, and young women regarding CGS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)814-826
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Sex Research
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Oct 1 2014


ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • History and Philosophy of Science
  • Gender Studies
  • Medicine(all)

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