Zimbabwe’s crippling economic crisis has meant that more women in the capital, Harare, are selling se_x with prices tumbling as low as the cost of half a loaf of bread.
This comes as more Zimbabwean women are working as se_x workers following the difficult years of deflation and austerity.
Some women just do it for a small meal, they need to eat to survive, a survey carried by the Weekend Post this week showed.
Many se_x workers in the Avenues area said there were now few clients, especially mid-month. During that period, they even take a dollar for a session commonly known as “short time” or sometimes even a 50 cent bond coin.
While prostitution is illegal in Zimbabwe, there is apparent official indifference, and with the fall in wages and rising unemployment, the industry has been growing rapidly.
“We are in a big trouble, compared to the previous years of the inclusive government. We now cash-in between $10 and $20 per night,” said one se_x worker who declined to be named.
“However, some days you fail to get even one client for the whole night,” she added.
A number of se_x workers interviewed said they were pushed into the oldest profession because of the current economic hardships.
“I graduated with a Diploma in Marketing but I failed to get a job and all my parents passed away. I decided to go on the streets in order to get money for rentals, food and pay school fees for my young brother who is staying in Guruve,” said a 25-year-old street savvy hooker.
Epworth se_x workers also said they were contemplating quitting citing meagre earnings, but had no choice. Adeline Pauro, a se_x worker, told the Weekend Post that prostitution was not an easy trade.
“Failure of marriages, abuse, rape and some being born HIV-positive are the main causes of prostitution. I did not volunteer or apply for this ‘job’ but there are situations whereby you want to revenge, earn a living and pay rentals,” she said.
Pauro, 33, said the economic crisis and the rise in unemployment force se_x workers to risk their lives.
“Now we seek help from the government because we no longer have dignity in society, men force us to perform rituals which we do just to get money and my children are not going to school.
“I ventured into this profession in 2015 because my husband was abusive, I do not have any academic qualifications to apply for jobs and I want to provide food for my family,” the mother of four added.
Another se_x worker, Elizabeth Bobo, said prostitution is not a decent profession, but it’s a means of survival. She said there is a lot of abuse in the industry.
“Sometimes I am forced to have unprotected se_x with HIV-positive men just because he will give me more money. Chinese men demand a lot but they pay less. As a mother, I am failing to provide food for my children, therefore I want to quit and do something better,” she said
Bobo said there is no business these days due to economic hardship and se_x workers have reduced prices sometimes to $0,80 per session just to lure clients.
“Men are not paying but they want se_x because maybe they are not getting enough se_x from their wives. After se_x, some start to preach the Word of God and even ask that you are selling your body, who gave you that right,” she said.
Bobo, 26, said she joined the profession because that was the only way to get money.
“I started se_x work in 2011 after I divorced with my husband and I was encouraged to venture into this profession because I had nothing to give my children since the man was not maintaining his kids.
“The only reason I am into this, it’s because of poverty. I have nothing to teach my children, I regret every day and I wish to be a better women like others,” she said.
In an interview with the Weekend Post, Epworth Member of Parliament Zalerah Makari said society must not judge se_x workers harshly.
“They called me and told me that they want to quit therefore I have set aside this day to spend more time with them just to give them love and comfort them. We are here as Ward Six to rehabilitate them, to give them projects and empower them,” she said.
Makari helped more than 100 se_x workers with soap and promised to do more for them.