International Development, Community, and Environment

Title

Mbaraan and the Shifting Political Economy of Sex in Urban Senegal

Document Type

Article

Abstract

This paper examines transactional sex in Dakar as a window into broader processes of social and economic change in urban Senegal. Patterns of heterosexual behaviour in Senegal's capital (late and increasing age at first marriage for women, a relatively high divorce rate and a rise in transactional sex) reflect a confluence of socioeconomic forces that curtail some forms of heterosexual union and facilitate others. Our analysis focuses on the rise of mbaraan, a practice in which single, married and divorced women have multiple male partners. We argue that while mbaraan is in part an expression of women's agency and a transgression of dominant gender norms, it also reflects women's social and economic subordination and their inability to achieve self-sufficiency independent of men's financial support. We suggest that this urban phenomenon is the outcome of contradictory opportunities and constraints that women face as they grapple with material insecurity and marital disappointments. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Publication Title

Culture, Health and Sexuality

Publication Date

2-1-2013

Volume

15

Issue

2

First Page

121

Last Page

134

ISSN

1369-1058

DOI

10.1080/13691058.2012.744849

Keywords

divorce, marriage, mbaraan, Senegal, transactional sex

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