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Med Anthropol Q. 2002 Sep;16(3):267-93.

"She drank his money": survival sex and the problem of violence in taverns in Gauteng province, South Africa.

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  • 1Center for AIDS Prevention Studies, University of California, San Francisco, USA.


This article examines the practice of "survival sex" in the taverns of Soweto and Hammanskraal area, South Africa. Women who engage in survival sex do not self-identify as commercial sex workers, and the community does not identify them as such. Those who structure HIV prevention programs should not confound such women with commercial sex workers, because effective intervention may vary between the two groups. Violence against women who engage in survival sex in taverns is common, as it is argued that, when a woman accepts beer from a man, she is obliged to exchange sex (because she has "drunk his money"). The South African government should prioritize the reduction of violence as a way to reduce HIV transmission, as, in the context of violence, women do not have the option of negotiating safer sex.

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