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One evening, the friend said they were going to work in a restaurant. Unless she wanted to be on the street the next day, Asanda had little choice but to follow.
Asanda was even more confused when they arrived at a pub and, instead of getting to work, the two of them began drinking alcohol. A while later, now drunk, they got into a car headed to a BP petrol station in Belleville, a Cape Town suburb. She noticed that girls were milling around the side of the road in short skirts, which she found odd. When they got out of the car, things became clear. At that moment, Asanda realized that she would be doing the same that night and she began to cry.
She was 17 years old. Did she simply make an economically rational decision in response to her bad circumstances? Or was she forced into a form of sexualized victimhood that seems all too common for women living under economic constraints? This debate is further muddled by the fact that Asanda lives in South Africa, a country formerly and controversially referred to as the rape capital of the world.
In certain provinces, more than three quarters of women report experiencing some form of sexual violence, including rape. Her story is less a depiction of what it means to be a prostitute today and more about how hard it is to avoid that life when there are few available alternatives. Now 21, Asanda no longer sells sex. Tall and slim with an almost regal posture, she dresses like Rihanna and has aspirations of being a model.