Hidden Prostitution? Understanding “Bizi” within the Contemporary Transactional Sex and HIV Prevention Programs in Cote d’Ivoire

Ramatou Ouedraogo, African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC)

Cote d’Ivoire is experiencing new forms of transactional sex labeled Bizi. While the channels established by HIV response mechanism refers to them as "PS" (sex professional), students, waitresses, salesgirls... who "manage Bizi" do not identify themselves as such, and are therefore considered as ‘’hidden’’ prostitutes and a hard-to-reach population for HIV programs. Drawn from observations and interviews conducted in Abidjan with young women involved in Bizi and prostitutes in brothels, this paper aims to document the modus operandi of this practice, and how it can lead to an ‘’invisibility’’ of this population. The results show that beyond sex and its remuneration, the Bizi involves a game of seduction in which young women embrace love and gender codes to succeed or find a husband. This mechanism wraps the Bizi in a socially acceptable layer, justifying that it is not considered as prostitution and that it is "hidden" for interventions seeking prostitutes

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  Presented in Session 6. Emerging Patterns of Sexual Networking in the Era of HIV/AIDS