Culture, Medicine and Psychiatry

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 339–370

Commercial Sex Work or Ukuphanda? Sex-for-Money Exchange in Soweto and Hammanskraal Area, South Africa

  • Janet Maia Wojcicki

DOI: 10.1023/A:1021291922026

Cite this article as:
Wojcicki, J.M. Cult Med Psychiatry (2002) 26: 339. doi:10.1023/A:1021291922026


This article introduces the conceptof ukuphanda, a Zulu verb that is used todescribe the sex-for-money exchanges that takeplace outside of commercial sex work in Sowetoand Hammanskraal area, South Africa. In linewith the ethnographic literature from othersareas of sub-Saharan Africa, it is argued thatwomen who exchange sex for money in taverns donot self-identify as commercial sex workers andexperience less stigma from the community. Unlike commercial sex work (as characterized bythe commercial sex work in Hillbrow,Johannesburg), which is understood to beassociated with short skirts and otherrevealing attire, sex-for-money exchange in thetaverns is viewed as more private, ambiguousand informal. Women who work as informal sexworkers, or “-phandela imali” (“tryto get money”), are understood to be usingsex-for-money exchange to survive financially.

informal sex work South Africa survival sex women 

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Janet Maia Wojcicki
    • 1
  1. 1.University of CaliforniaSan Francisco

Personalised recommendations