Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Community where couples have sex in open fields

Typically overcrowded: Council flats in Mariannridge

Inadequate housing and the attendant overcrowding have ensured that many couples in a community in South Africa cannot be intimate with each other inside their flats. They make do with open fields, building staircases and similar places.

Residents of the mostly coloured community of Mariannridge outside Pinetown claim their council-owned flats are so overcrowded that when they start to feel frisky they head out into the open field.

Some have even bought mattresses for their nightly sojourns, to avoid being pinched or nicked by spiky shrubs.

When 28-year-old Jeanine Stanley wants to be alone with her fiancé, the veld is the place to be.

"Having sex in the field is the life for many people here. You have to choose your spot first. People have sex everywhere, but not in the flats because there are children," she said.

Like most residents in the area, Stanley's family members have been sharing an overcrowded flat since 2001.

"About 11 people stay in my family flat. I cannot have sex in front of my mother and children. When I turn, my hand touches my mother's bed. So every time when I need privacy with my fiancé the open field becomes our first choice," she said.

Most couples share the same houses as their in-laws, with some families sharing their two-bedroom flats with up to 17 people.

When a couple feels the urge, Stanley says, they pick up their mattress - which they leave outside the flats during the day as there is no space for them inside - and venture into the field.

The next hurdle is to "pick a spot" to be alone in the field.

The people of Marrianridge who were moved there in 1976 through the apartheid government's Group Areas Act.  They are now agitating for improved housing condition.

For the past three weeks the community has protested violently against service delivery backlogs by blockading roads with burning tyres, shattered glass and bricks, and uprooted street signs.

Community leader Brain Charles said the community was squashed into about 80 units of flats. When the area was initially established, it contained about 600 units.

Charles added that most teenage pregnancies in the area also happened in the open fields.

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