Sunday, 28 February 2016

Meet the 'naughtiest' prostitutes from Gutu

It is around midnight and scantily-dressed sex workers, most of them young women, lean on the perimeter fence of a popular nightspot at Mupandawana Growth Point in Gutu.


Some are seated on a wooden bench in front of the dimly-light bar awaiting clients. Some roam around the bar, hoping to entice an imbiber.

Occasionally, a man comes up, negotiates with one of the sex workers, and the two stroll off to the nearby maize field.

At this bar, the cold beer and the teenage sex workers are the main attractions.

William “Widzo” Takawira, a Mupandawana resident and a regular at the bar, said: “Fairly young sex workers are always here and this draws a lot of patrons. Teenage sex workers are proving to be popular here and have driven older sex workers off the market. The majority of the older sex workers have moved elsewhere.”
Meet the 'naughtiest' prostitutes from Gutu
One of the sex workers, who only identified herself as Princess, told this publication that she charges US$5 for her services.

“If I get a client, I take him to one of the rooms that are at the back of the bar where my sister stays. Some of my clients may want to negotiate for a lesser charge. Depending on the day, I can accept anything,” the giggling Princess said.

She said those seeking her services for the whole night were charged US$15, adding that such clients usually come on weekends.

Princess said she left school when she was in Form Two. Her parents died when she was still in primary school, leaving her in the care of her ailing grandmother. Hunger and poverty, she said, forced her into prostitution.

“My uncle used to pay for my school fees and looked after us, but ever since he married another wife he abandoned us. I fend for myself and my sick grandmother.”

Poverty has driven many young girls into prostitution while others are being influenced by peers and older sex workers who style themselves as brothel madams of sorts.

Mrs Sophia Nyashangu-Mutsikiwe, who works for Ceshar, an organisation offering free medical services to sex workers, said poverty was the main driver of prostitution.

“Many of these children are school drop-outs while others are coming from families that have broken down. Whenever, they come seeking treatment for sexually transmitted infections, one can tell that they are being forced by circumstances and if given a chance to do a project they are willing to leave sex work,” said Mrs Nyashangu-Mutsikiwe.

She said the young sex workers are often exploited by some of their more experienced counterparts.

“There are some cases where young girls run away from home and try to eke a living here in Gutu. In the process they end up in the hands of experienced sex workers who are no longer competitive on the market.

“Such sex workers give them a warm welcome and later on use them as sex objects while taking a commission.”

She said the majority of teenage sex workers fail to negotiate safe sex resulting in them contracting STIs.

Mrs Nyashangu-Mutsikiwe added: “It is sad to note that no matter how many times we insist on condom use, teenage sex workers are still having unprotected sex. The numbers of teenage girls coming for STIs treatment is evident that they are not using protection.

“Others have gone for HIV testing. The majority of those that tested HIV positive get medication in the first month only to discontinue treatment since they are shy to go to public clinics during the day to get some medication.”

National Aids Council district Aids co-ordinator for Gutu Mr Paska Mukuwe said the increasing number of young sex workers seeking treatment for STIs was a frightening trend.

“This is a poverty-stricken district and people are forced to do all sorts of things for a living. The increasing number of child sex workers can be attributed to poverty. It is, however, difficult for us to capture the actual figures since the sex workers are mobile,” said Mr Mukuwe.

He said his department was working hand-in-glove with all HIV stakeholders and other partners to come up with a strategy to arrest the trend.

Two weeks ago, NAC, the Health and Child Care Ministry and Regai Dzive Shiri organisation started distributing condoms and conducting voluntary HIV testing and counselling.

The programme targeted such areas as Matizha, Gutu, Chitando, Majada and Chin’ombe.

Sunday Mail
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