T

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he need for ma­te­rial sup­port, and the avail­abil­ity of sex as a way to meet this need, of­ten in­flu­ences the sex­ual be­hav­iour of women.

Though some of­fer sex to men to sup­port them­selves and their fam­i­lies, there are those who do it mainly to im­prove their cur­rent life­styles.

Trans­ac­tional sex is when money or gifts are ex­changed for a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship. The gifts can be cash, hand­bags or even trips. Of­ten, things such as rent, phones and air­time/ cell­phone con­tracts, gro­ceries and cloth­ing are thrown in as in­cen­tives for trans­ac­tional re­la­tion­ships.

The dis­tinc­tion be­tween pros­ti­tu­tion and trans­ac­tional sex is that there is no pre­de­ter­mined amount for the lat­ter, and trans­ac­tional sex is of­ten framed in the form of an ac­tual re­la­tion­ship.

It lasts longer than the re­la­tion­ship be­tween a pros­ti­tute and a client, and is not al­ways driven by poverty.

While the ex­change of money for the ser­vices of a pros­ti­tute is il­le­gal in South Africa, trans­ac­tional sex­ual re­la­tion­ships are not.

These re­la­tion­ships can be a con­cern when it comes to sex­u­ally trans­mit­ted in­fec­tions be­cause the part­ners are very rarely faith­ful to each other. This is es­pe­cially true when the re­la­tion­ship in­volves an age, power and money gap, usu­ally to the dis­ad­van­tage of younger women.

It is not un­com­mon for a richer male part­ner to refuse to use con­doms, and he may also have mul­ti­ple part­ners. The woman may feel com­pelled to do what­ever her part­ner asks so she doesn’t risk los­ing her eco­nomic ben­e­fits.

This puts ev­ery­one in­volved at high

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