Commercial sex work or ukuphanda? Sex-for-money exchange in Soweto and Hammanskraal area, South Africa

Cult Med Psychiatry. 2002 Sep;26(3):339-70. doi: 10.1023/a:1021291922026.


This article introduces the concept of ukuphanda, a Zulu verb that is used to describe the sex-for-money exchanges that take place outside of commercial sex work in Soweto and Hammanskraal area, South Africa. In line with the ethnographic literature from others areas of sub-Saharan Africa, it is argued that women who exchange sex for money in taverns do not self-identify as commercial sex workers and experience less stigma from the community. Unlike commercial sex work (as characterized by the commercial sex work in Hillbrow, Johannesburg), which is understood to be associated with short skirts and other revealing attire, sex-for-money exchange in the taverns is viewed as more private, ambiguous and informal. Women who work as informal sex workers, or "-phandela imali" ('try to get money'), are understood to be using sex-for-money exchange to survive financially.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Anecdotes as Topic
  • Attitude to Health
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Risk Factors
  • Self Concept*
  • Sex Work / psychology*
  • Sexual Behavior / psychology*
  • Sexual Partners / psychology
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • South Africa
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women / psychology*
  • Women's Health*