TABLE 4-3 Approximate Percentage of Those Currently Aged 15 Already Sexually Active

Study Area

Male

Female

Burundi

27

7

Central African Republic

46

43

Côte d'Ivoire

47

60

Kenya

24

29

Lesotho

36

6

Tanzania

29

29

Togo

19

15

Lusaka, Zambia

43

24

 

SOURCE: Cleland and Ferry (1995).

suggest that formalization is currently being reversed, although, as Guyer (1994) points out, there are no clear data to support this conclusion that many anthropologists have reached by observation.

Certainly, informal unions are very common. In some cities in the developing world, nearly half of all adults are living in unions not formally legitimized (Caraël, 1995), so distinguishing between marital and extramarital relations can be problematic. What emerges clearly from the WHO/GPA data is that multiple concurrent partnerships are frequent in Africa. In Lesotho, with low organized polygyny but high rates of migrant labor, over half of men and two in five women report more than one current regular partner. In Côte d'Ivoire, over one-third of men are in two or more unions simultaneously, but no women report more than one regular partner, while in Lusaka, Zambia, twice as many men as women have two stable relationships. In general, women are aware of their partners' other partners; the surveys show a very high correlation between men reporting more than one partner and women reporting the same of their husbands.

The WHO/GPA surveys report high levels of abstinence within marriage or regular partnership (Table 4-4), in part the consequence of either long periods of abstinence following the birth of a child or terminal abstinence following the birth of a grandchild. One-quarter of married women in Togo reported no sex with their regular partner in the 12 months preceding the study. (Figure 4-1 shows that women in Togo also average more months of postpartum abstinence than most other women in Africa.) In most countries, 4 to 8 percent of currently



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