Interplay between economic empowerment and sexual behaviour and practices of migrant workers within the context of HIV and AIDS in the Lesotho textile industry

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Abstract

© 2014 The Author(s). Published by Taylor and Francis. Economic empowerment brings with it a wide range of consequences, both positive and negative. The objective of this paper was to examine the relationship between economic empowerment and the sexual behaviour and practices of migrant workers within the context of HIV and AIDS in the Lesotho textile industry. Data for this paper were extracted from the findings of a larger study which had been conducted concerning HIV and AIDS in the textile industry in Lesotho. Using in-depth interviews, data were collected from 40 participants who were purposively selected from five factories which had been chosen randomly. Empowerment theory was used as a lens to provide meanings for the experiences of the participants. The findings show that the participants were empowered only in certain respects in terms of Kabeer's empowerment model of ‘power to’ and ‘power within’, on one hand, and in terms of Malhotra's comprehensive empowerment framework at the household level, on the other, as being employed in the industry enabled them to participate in the economy. Employment in the sector provided the participants with the means to be able to acquire basic needs and the ability to participate in household decision-making: for the female participants, the ability to make independent sexual decisions was also enhanced. These improvements were greeted enthusiastically, particularly by the female participants, given their previously disadvantaged status as a result of coming from rural patriarchal villages with gender-defined hegemonic notions of respectability. The findings also indicate that environmental factors and others, such as meagre salaries, encouraged some of the female workers to engage in transactional sex, while some of the male participants tended to increase their sexual relationships as a result of acquiring employment and income from the industry. It is the contention of the authors of this study that true empowerment requires both vital resources and individual and collective participation, particularly for the women, who are more vulnerable than men. Finally, we conclude that the opportunities provided by economic empowerment have given the participants a new social meaning for their situation and an awareness about their place in power relations.

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APA

Tanga, P. T., & Tangwe, M. N. (2014). Interplay between economic empowerment and sexual behaviour and practices of migrant workers within the context of HIV and AIDS in the Lesotho textile industry. Sahara J, 11(1), 187–201. https://doi.org/10.1080/17290376.2014.976250

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