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Because urban informal settlements remain sites of high HIV incidence, prevalence and violence, increasing attention is being paid into understanding how young South Africans construct respect and masculine identity.
A study by HEARD and the Gender and Health Unit at the South African Medical Research Council explores the intersections of livelihoods and HIV risk behaviours and violence for young men living in urban informal settlements in South Africa. Researchers argue that young men struggle to achieve respect in contexts where they lack employment; in turn they seek sources of respect that are open to them, namely control over women, violence against other men and seeking multiple sexual partners.
They also argue that these being the only pathways open to them is a legacy of apartheid, young people’s continued economic marginalisation and sustained gender inequalities. However, the researchers point to potential opportunities for intervention to build more gender equitable and less violent societies.