Feven is a 25 year-old Eritrean woman who was born and raised in Kenya. She immigrated to Winnipeg several years ago with her mother and brother through family sponsorship. Feven is a full-time university student who works part-time. When she wasn’t in school or at work, Feven loved spending time with her friends in the downtown core, usually trying out different restaurants. Upon moving to Canada, she saw numerous differences in the way young people interacted with authority figures (which included both teachers and elders). In Kenya, children were taught at a young age to respect what adults told them while this was not always the case in Winnipeg. This was not the only instance where Feven reflected on the differences between Kenyan and Canadian society. She saw Canadian-borne youth as particularly unencumbered by rules as to where they can go or how they spend their free time. While she described herself as having a lot of freedom in her life, she still felt that her younger brother was granted more latitude, particularly in relation to dating and sex.
Feven described the ways in which gender impacted how she and her brother were allowed to date. According to Feven, nothing would make her mother happier than if she got married and had kids. While her mother expressed this wish, Feven explained that it was her male relatives her were the most concerned with her single status. Another issue for Feven was the pressure to only date (and conceivably marry) Eritrean men. She said that while even though there are a lot of similarities between Eritrean and Ethiopian cultures, it would still be a big deal if she were to marry an Ethiopian man. Feven was allowed to date, but only if it was leading somewhere serious and not simply for fun. As for sex, her mother had given her brother “the talk” when he was 17 years-old and had yet to do so with her, even though she was older.
Feven does believe that her mother has changed since moving to Winnipeg. While she has never spoken directly to Feven about sex, she now feels comfortable speaking about sex with her friends in front of Feven. Even though she felt she had more freedom to date in Canada than she would have if they had stayed in her home country, this did not come without its downsides. The ability to have different relationships and have sex came with a whole host of responsibilities and worries from her perspective. Sex required planning and good communication, emphasizing the need to get checked for STIs and prevent unplanned pregnancy. Feven wondered whether having the freedom to have a sexual relationship was worth all of the work that came along with it.