Reflections on the sexual agency of young women in a low-income rural South African community
Reproductive health issues are pertinent in the mental health development of young women in South Africa, especially young women in low-income communities. The prevalence of problems such as HIV/AIDS and unplanned or unwanted pregnancies among South African female adolescents specifically warrants urgent attention. It is argued that inadequate theoretical frameworks and inadequate data on sexuality in different South African communities hamper effective preventative interventions in the female reproductive health arena. This article reports and discusses some of the findings of a larger study exploring female adolescent sexuality in one specific low-income South African community. Twenty-five adolescent women from low-income, 'coloured'1 households in the Western Cape were interviewed about their first experiences of sexual intercourse. It was found that the participants demonstrated limited sexual agency in their first experiences of sexual intercourse. The authors conclude that a new discourse of female sexual agency may be needed.