Transactional Sex among Youths in Post-Conflict Liberia

By Atwood, Katharine A.; Kennedy, Stephen B. et al. | Journal of Health Population and Nutrition, April 2011 | Go to article overview

Transactional Sex among Youths in Post-Conflict Liberia


Atwood, Katharine A., Kennedy, Stephen B., Barbu, Ernlee M., Nagbe, Wede, Seekey, Wede, Sirleaf, Prince, Perry, Oretha, Martin, Roland B., Sosu, Fred, Journal of Health Population and Nutrition


INTRODUCTION

The two-decade civil war in Liberia resulted in 270,000 casualties. Thousands more were tortured, maimed, or victimized by sexual violence, including being held as sexual slaves or exchanging sex for protection, shelter, and food. During the civil conflict, the domestic gross national product (GNP) in Liberia fell 90% from 1987 to 1996, one of the largest ever-recorded recessions (1). The civil conflict ended eight years ago (2003), and in 2005, Liberia held its first democratic election and is now witnessing a remarkable re-investment by the international donor communities in all sectors of its economy (1,2). Despite these efforts, the economy of Liberia is plagued by 85% unemployment (3-4), insufficient domestic and human capital (2,4), and a destroyed physical and economic infrastructure (4).

Little is known about the rates of HIV prevalence in Liberia, and detection efforts are hampered by a severely-damaged public-health system and loss of trained personnel (4-6). The most recent Liberian Demographic Health Survey indicates that 1.5% of people aged 15-49 years are HIV-infected. The prevalence rates are higher among females than among males (1.8% vs 1.2%), indicating a low-level generalized epidemic (7). Gender differences in prevalence rates are greater for those aged 15-25 years, suggesting that young females are at a greater risk of infection than males of the same age-group (7). In Monrovia, the nation's capital, the rate of HIV infection is 2.8% for women and 2.1% for men. Surveillance studies of women attending antenatal clinics in 10 urban centres found an overall prevalence rate of 5.4% (8).

The Ministry of Health and Social Welfare of Liberia reports that the primary focus of heterosexual transmission is among older males and younger females (9). It is suggested that transactional sex emerged in Liberia during the conflict and post-conflict periods as a means of coping with scarce resources and limited economic opportunities (4), although few published qualitative or quantitative studies in Liberia have examined this issue to date (10).

Results of studies in sub-Saharan Africa indicate that transactional sex tends to occur in exchange for cash, goods, and services (11-13), school-fees (12,13), advancement (11,13,14) or to gain heightened social status, and it is cited as placing women at an increased risk of HIV infection (14-17). These transactions often occur between older male adults and young females where power differentials--the inability to negotiate condom-use and coercion--contribute to women's risk of HIV/sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), unwanted pregnancy, and sexual violence (17-20). Transactional sex has also been suggested to be part of a larger pattern of social interdependence in sub-Saharan Africa where women receive material goods while males gain outward displays of power and prestige (11,21). With the uncertainty that surrounds daily life in these countries, women may develop several concurrent transactional sex partners as a form of 'social insurance' (21) providing them with resources to call upon, should crises such as famine or war re-emerge (21,22). For the purposes of this study, transactional sex was defined as engaging in sexual intercourse in exchange for cash, goods, services, commodities, or privileges that are perceived as needs or wants by the participant.

While it is well-established that transactional sex places women at a risk of sexual violence, unprotected sex, early pregnancy, and HIV infection (15,23-25), several researchers have critiqued the analysis of women as primarily victims of transactional sex and men as the perpetrators (26-29). These researchers call for a broader understanding of transactional sex as nested in complex sexual economies where women make choices to engage in transactional sex to meet a broad array of needs in resource-constrained communities (26-28).

Similar to other post-conflict countries, Liberia has witnessed the establishment of a large and successful peace-keeping infrastructure to restore peace and rebuild the governmental infrastructure (1).

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Transactional Sex among Youths in Post-Conflict Liberia
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.