Money, Status, Love, and Death: Sexual Relations With Considerably Older Persons in African Societies—A Systematic Review

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Sexual relations between adolescents or young persons and considerably older persons are considered illegal or deviant in many countries. Yet legal and social definitions and constructions do not capture the complexity of such relations and the various perspectives surrounding them, including that of those involved and other members in the community. In a previous publication, the author examined perspectives on sexual relationships between minors and older persons in Western societies. The current review broadens the perspective on this phenomenon by examining perceptions of sexual relationships between minors, young adults and older persons in African societies, using a similar approach informed by and adapted according to the unique sociocultural context of the articles reviewed. All samples were located in Africa. All studies were published in English. In the current review, the ages of the adolescents or young adults were higher than in the review of Western societies, up to 25, and the age gaps were higher as well. Three main themes emerged from the meta-analysis: adolescents and young adults’ motivations to be involved in sexual relations with an older person, relationship characteristics as perceived by both partners, and the negative consequences of such relationships for the younger partner. The findings are discussed and implications for future studies and practices are suggested, highlighting the important role of sociocultural perceptions and calling for a more nuanced and intellectually modest understanding of the complexity of these relationships.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)527-540
Number of pages14
JournalTrauma, Violence, and Abuse
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jul 2021
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s) 2019.


  • African societies
  • adolescent
  • intergenerational sex
  • statutory rape
  • sugar daddy
  • transactional sex
  • young adult

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Applied Psychology


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