Culture Clash: Shona (Zimbabwean) Migrant Women’s Experiences with Communicating about Sexual Health and Wellbeing across Cultures and Generations

Tinashe Dune, Virginia Mapedzahama


This paper discusses the influence of cross-cultural modes of communication on perceptions of sexual health and wellbeing for Shona (Zimbabwean) women living in Australia and their children. Data was collected using focus groups in South Australia with fourteen women, between the ages of 29 and 53. Transcripts were analysed thematically. The women primarily constructed sexual health and wellbeing in customary Shona ways, which not only maintain secrecy about sexual health and wellbeing discourse, but also prohibit parents from talking to children about sexual health as such talk is reserved for particular kin and non-kin relationships. These constructions however became more fluid the longer the women resided in Australia. For these women the notions of sexual health and wellbeing are a negotiation between Australian constructs and those from Shona culture, especially when applied to their children. This research highlights the potential influence of various cultural world views on sexual health communication among African migrant women and their children and questions the appropriateness of sexual health and wellbeing campaigns and their responsiveness for cross-cultural youth. (Afr J Reprod Health 2017; 21[1]: 18-29).

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