'He is proud of my courage to ask him to be circumcised': experiences of female partners of male circumcision clients in Iringa region, Tanzania

Cult Health Sex. 2014 Jan 9. doi: 10.1080/13691058.2013.873481. Online ahead of print.


Male circumcision programmes in Tanzania seek to increase demand among older, married clients who are more likely to have steady female sexual partners. Understanding women's roles throughout their partners' circumcision and any resultant changes in relationship dynamics are important considerations as efforts are made to scale up male circumcision. We conducted interviews with 32 wives of male circumcision clients from November 2011 to February 2012 in Iringa, Tanzania. Transcripts were digitally recorded, transcribed and translated into English and codes were developed based on emerging themes. Women were instrumental in convincing their husbands to be circumcised, but early resumption of sexual activity was common and a minority of women reported their husbands' emotional abuse or risk compensation following circumcision. These findings suggest that married women play a key role in their husbands' decisions to be circumcised, but women's needs for information and education are not being met and gender inequalities further decrease women's abilities to reduce their risk of HIV in this context. Strategies to more meaningfully engage women in male circumcision programmes are needed.