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Small houses and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe

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Lois Chingandu from SafAIDS recently wrote a very interesting paper entitled Multiple Concurrent Partnerships: The story of Zimbabwe – Are small houses a key driver? which we’ve just published on Kubatana. The phrase “small house” refers to a mistress.

Here’s an excerpt from the paper and we urge you to go and read the whole thing:

The high levels of AIDS-related deaths in Zimbabwe have forced men to acknowledge that AIDS is indeed a problem that they can no longer afford to ignore and demands that they find new ways of doing business. The message of abstinence, faithfulness and condom use (ABC) is well known to all. However the desire for multiple sexual partners has convinced men that small houses could be a safer way of continuing to enjoy sex with multiple partners, rather than choosing monogamy and faithfulness, which are widely viewed as western ideals not applicable to Africans.

According to most of the men in the focus group discussions, they are pushed by their wives to start small houses. Using their own words, “wives are nagging, there is no time to rest or have peace in your own home without the wife asking for money for this and that or complaining about what has not been done or paid by the husband.” “Once they are married women tend to relax and take so many things for granted, they stop pampering their husband and are always moody, complaining or shouting.” “Most wives use sex deprivation as a tool to punish the husband when they are not happy.” “Before small houses we would stay in the beer hall until late, have a bit of casual sex and get home when I know she will be asleep. But now with HIV/AIDS casual sex is now a no go area. In contrast the small house is a house of peace where I can rest mentally and physically while being treated as a king. My responsibility is to pay the rent and buy food. When I do buy the woman anything she is very grateful whereas my wife and children at the big house feel it is their right and might not see the need to appreciate what I do. Sexually I can do at the small house that which I do not necessarily do in my house (oral and anal sex) because my wife sees it as embarrassing and unacceptable. The small house is really my wife the only difference is that there is no legal certificate or rings.”

One comment to “Small houses and HIV/AIDS in Zimbabwe”

  1. Comment by michelle mangwanya:

    I totally agree with this article. Small houses are a driving force behind hiv and aids in zim. I am a vicyim of small house, my father is a well respected directorate in the government of zim and he has a small house which has been hiding from everyone besides those he chooses to devulge to for 7 years. I am only 17 years old and had to learn the harsh truth about my father’s 25yr old mistress with whom he has 3 children with.