Damage and womanhood in the lives of female prostitutes in Zambia

Hill, Daisy (2020) Damage and womanhood in the lives of female prostitutes in Zambia. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

[img] PDF - Published Version
Download (2MB)


This thesis is about the life histories of twenty prostitutes located in Zambia. It aims to answer the following questions:
1. What are the experiences of female prostitutes in Zambia and how can they be understood in a Zambian context?
2. What is the relevance of Zambia’s colonial past to prostitution?
What has become of my thesis in answering these questions is a study centred around a concept known as “ the damage” that emerged from my data. The “damage” is a term that is applied to women who have had sex outside of marriage, who then become spoiled and consequently known as ‘damaged’.
My study examines the origins of this “damage” and in so doing acknowledges that because Zambia is a postcolonial country, it is likely that this idea of “damage” has come about through a process of cultural hybridity. This argument was premised on the “damage” sharing many similarities to the mid-to nineteenth century ‘fallen’ or ‘loose’ woman, which were imported to Zambia through colonialization and then evolved within this specific context. When a woman becomes ‘damaged’ she becomes subject to various forms of stigmatisation that impact her daily. My study consequently contributes to existing work on stigma theory as it examines the many challenges that my participants face as women, as prostitutes, and as ‘damaged’ living on the continent.
My study also contributes to existing work on African feminist/womanist theories as it looks at the significance of indigenous womanism/feminisms in my participants lives. It does so because these movements claim that they can liberate all African women. What my thesis argues, however, is that in actuality these theories instead exclude a large portion of women from their movement, such as my participants, and so are in some ways reinforcing the stigmatisation that they already experience. My study concludes with a call for indigenous feminist/womanist theories to be revisited. It asks for theorists to look at incorporating women like my participants who, despite not being representative of the ‘idealistic’ African woman, still embody many of the same values. These values include a type of African womanhood that is ultimately about motherhood, about community, about working in conjunction with men, all of which my participants take on, simply in their own unique way.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Law, Politics and Sociology > Sociology
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HQ The Family. Marriage. Women > HQ0012 Sexual life > HQ0101 Prostitution > HQ0141-270.9 By region or country > HQ0257 Africa > HQ0262.5 Zambia
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 07 May 2020 14:08
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 14:08
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/91199

View download statistics for this item

📧 Request an update