Current Institutional Affiliation
Junior Researcher, Health Economics and HIV and AIDS Research Division, University of Kwazulu-Natal, South Africa

Award Information

Next Generation Social Sciences in Africa: Doctoral Dissertation Proposal Fellowship 2013
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Health Economics and HIV/AIDS Research Division, University of Pretoria
Dissident women's sexualities? The (un) making of a new local sexual marketplace. Situating the "small house" in Zimbabwe

My research intends to look at the motivations of middle-class single women involved in long term sexual relationships with married men in Zimbabwe. These women are locally referred to as 'small houses'. This topic is of interest against a background of women's sexualities and sexual behaviours having been often researched from a moral, problematised and medicalised perspective. Such frameworks have often missed out on the nuances of women's sexualities from women's perspectives and lived experiences and hence have failed to recognize how the study of women's sexual behaviour can also be a tool to raise innovative questions about political and socio-economic relations in a society. My study intends to investigate these women's motivations for getting involved in such seemingly risky and highly stigmatised relationships considering how 'small- house' relationships are part of the infamous sexual networks and are labelled as multiple concurrent sexual partnerships, key drivers of HIV in Zimbabwe and sub-Saharan Africa at large. This is also because health and development discourses especially in HIV and AIDS stricken regions have pointed out the 'feminisation of poverty' as one of the major structural drivers of HIV and this has led to an increased inflow of humanitarian support especially in Zimbabwe focusing on empowering women through education and increased livelihood strategies opportunities to try and curb women's vulnerabilities to HIV . Yet, a number of recent studies have shown higher prevalences of HIV amongst women who are highly educated and are of high socio-economic status. Hence the need to understand women's sexual behaviours, their motivations, desires and practices beyond poverty at face value and explore other economic, political and socio-cultural dynamics operating in specific geopolitical contexts.