They have gone to school. They have high profile jobs and are probably driving the latest cars. But behind the shiny curtains, educated women engage in cheating more than their less educated or uneducated counterparts, according to the newly-released results of the Uganda Demographic and Health Survey (UDHS).
The survey, conducted by the Uganda Bureau of Statistics (UBOS) with the support of various development agencies.
Whereas 1.1% of uneducated women reported to have had sexual intercourse with two or more partners, the figure was 1.7% for women with primary education and 2% for those with secondary education and above.
Out of over 8,000 women interviewed, 182 women indicated that they had had more than one sexual partner during the previous months, with the highest number being in central region and east central (Busoga).
However, less than one third of them used a condom with the additional sexual partner. On average, most women interviewed had had two to three sexual partners in their lifetime.
Contrary to the situation among women, educated men had fewer partners than their uneducated colleagues. However, men remained more promiscuous than women. The proportion of men with multiple sexual partners varied from 18% among men with secondary education or higher, 19% among those with primary education and 36% among the uneducated.
The bureau obtained the data by confidentially interviewing a sample of 8,674 women aged 15 - 49 countrywide, from June to December 2011. The respondents were carefully sampled to represent the situation in Uganda. They were asked various questions including their backgrounds and various health topics such as family planning, sexual behaviour, knowledge about HIV/AIDS, parenting matters and knowledge about tuberculosis.
Why would an educated woman have more sexual partners?
Traditionally, in most Ugandan cultures, it was considered appropriate for a man to have several women while a woman had to stick to one man.
However, sociologists argue that due to education and the women’s liberation movements, many women have started competing with men. “Some women will argue that if men have the right to sleep around, so should women,” says Laura Aryijuka, a sociologist and psychology graduate student at Kyambogo University.
She, however, cautioned that women will usually tell a lie if asked how many sexual partners they have had. Aryijuka observes that cheating could be more common among educated women because education enables them to be more assertive and exposed.
“Unlike in the past, most women don’t have sengas to advise them. Those days a girl in Kabale would be killed for getting pregnant. But now, this educated girl feels it is her life. They’ve realised that sex is fun and pleasurable and society doesn’t even reprimand them,” says Aryijuka.
Due to exposure, educated women come under pressure from men virtually every day and in the long run, some end up succumbing. Some want to postpone marriage while pursuing studies, but end up feeling lonely and getting a relationship to fill that void. At that time, she might not even think about a man’s commitment to marriage because she is still pursuing education.
“It mainly occurs when in this confusion of feeling lonely emotionally; so many men are presenting proposals; you have the supervisor at university wanting to sleep with her, then her boss, her colleagues.” Says Josiah Muwanga, a counselling psychologist with Life Ministries Kiwatule.
Muwanga reveals that one woman told him during his counselling sessions that out of “confusion”, she had three sexual partners concurrently.
Dr. Medard Bitekyerezo, a member of the parliamentary HIV/AIDS committee, is surprised by the findings. “If that is what UBOS has found out in their research, it is very unfortunate for this country, because women are the custodians of our families,” he says.
Emmanuel Dombo, the Bunyole East legislator says: “We are having more educated women who are not married. Men fear to marry highly educated women. And this could give them the opportunity to have more sexual partners.”
Women activists view
Solome Nakaweesi Kimbugwe of the Uganda Women’s Network argues that the results should not be an excuse for men to make unreasonable controls on women. In any case, she argues, an overwhelming majority of women do not cheat on their partners.
“When you jump on a bus to go for a workshop upcountry, people will think you have a partner there. The men who used to go for workshops probably ended up hooking up with other partners, so they think women are doing the same,” she says.
Nakaweesi says because the educated woman talks more openly about sexuality, people think she is promiscuous. “If I wanted more sex, I would say it frankly. If I am not enjoying sex, I would still say it. Unfortunately, when you say your mind out, there is a problem, because everyone thinks a good woman does not talk about sex,” she says.
She worries that these statistics in a way downplay the gains brought by more women going to school and emancipation. “It is like you are telling someone down in the village not to send their daughters to school because they will be promiscuous,” she says.
Nakaweesi says there is need for UBOS to carry out their research using the social media like Facebook and Twitter to get the general view on topical behavioural issues.
“You cannot use just the traditional methods of asking people at the grassroots because that is in a way biased. Use Facebook and you would be surprised by the results.”
The general manager at UBOS, Geoffrey Nnabongo says they will release a more detailed report later this year to explain the results
Source: New Vision