Jacketed Women: Qualitative Research Methodologies on Sexualities and Gender in Africa

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Over the past decade, there has been an increasing emphasis in African scholarship and research on the importance of understanding sexuality and the issues around it, such as identity, sexual rights and sexuality, reproductive health and rights and gender and political democracy. Despite this, Africa has frequently been found by researchers to be predominantly hostile to any discussion of sexual and reproductive rights, conveying dismay at the notion of women's rights to reproductive freedom, disgusted objection to the idea that gay and lesbian people have civic and human rights and opposed to engagement with issues such as FGM (Kenya), virginity testing (South Africa), Shar'ia interpretations of appropriate sexuality (Nigeria and Sudan), and legal relationships to homosexuality and intersexuality (South Africa). In 2004, the African Gender Institute ran a continental research project, Mapping Sexualities, among the objectives of which was the development of a research methodology suited to carrying out in-depth case studies of the dynamics of gender and contemporary sexual cultures in Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa and Uganda.