Confessions of a sex worker

HARARE - Memory Shiri, 35, a sex worker in Harare, says she will never quit her trade because it is helping her take care of her family.

Shiri, who has been in the “oldest profession” for 13 years, says the Zimbabwe government should legalise sex work, for the “ladies of the night” to be able to fight for their rights.

“I am proud of what I do because it helps me look after my family,” she said confidently at an HIV/Aids symposium organised by the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights (ZLHR) last week.
“I decided to use my womanhood because it is the most effective, just like a builder uses his hands, why can’t the law protect me so that my rights are observed and I can be able to defend myself from abuse?”

A pregnant Shiri claimed  the  magistrates, prosecutors and police officers who try to drive them away from the profession are the very clients who are buying sex from them.
“Police officers are our first clients, though it’s hard to get them to pay, and those PPs (public prosecutors) are actually our rich clients,” Shiri said.

She said it was better if more organisations engage sex workers, educating them on crime, health and their human rights.
“I believe everyone has a right to choice and I chose to use my private part,” she said. “With the way we operate if you treat us as (sex workers) like ZLHR is by properly teaching us the law that if I steal from a client I would be committing a crime and if I kill a client I would have committed a crime, that would help us,” she said.

“I urge other groups to follow suit and come and help us. And for those who deal with health issues, if you help us openly, because sex work is there and a reality, if you help us by treating sexually transmitted diseases and teach us about sexual health, it will help curb the spreading of these diseases in Zimbabwe.”

Asked if she knew the man responsible for her pregnancy given that she has multiple sex partners per night, the sex worker said she did.

“Yes, I know him, because I am responsible for condom use,” she said. “But on the day I was drunk.
However, the person does not want to be associated with the pregnancy, but I will take care of my baby.”
She paid homage to aid agencies that have come to sex workers’ help.

“Katswe Sisterhood was one of the first organisations to open their arms to us after realising that sex work will not end, but they take us and sit down with us and educate and inform us while ZLHR is another organisation that has helped us against criticism,” she said.
“In our trade, we are very violent because we live like animals because we want money, so when ZLHR teaches us the law that if we assault anyone we will be committing crimes, it reduces violence.

“We are taught that even spreading HIV without informing a sexual partner is a crime, I tread carefully and thus also reducing the spread of the virus.
“I will not stop doing sex work, everyone is doing it in a way, though differently. Some only chose to change their names to their husbands’, I decided to use mine. Even if you give me thousands of dollars, I won’t stop.”

David Hofisi, a lawyer with ZLHR, said sex workers were vulnerable groups operating in a tough environment.

“Decriminalisation will help address gender-based violence and help the sex workers fight for their rights,” he said.

Tabitha Khumalo, the Member of Parliament for Bulawayo East, who was once widely criticised for calling for decriminalisation of sex work, said people needed to accept that sex work was there and “not bury their heads in the ground like ostriches.”

Comments (4)

Rinorwadza basa racho high risk high returns some clients demand unprotected sex and the money will be too good to refuse.

ROSE - 16 September 2013

soon as government legalize prostitution , thieves should also lobby, kuti kuba kuve legal kikikiiii cause mhuri dzinogona kuraramawo nehumbavha futi....please !!!!!! nxaaaaa

mwana wevhu - 16 September 2013

Memory shamwari how much do you charge for a suck and how much do you charge for a fuck?

bepa revanhu - 16 September 2013

Meomory, the only thing you have control over is your body. Every time you sleep with a man your spirit gets hooked to his sprit. Its true and this is why many of prostitutes end up being made. You must be brave to allow every men of different type to sleep with you. Please God can take you out of that and He can care for you and your family better than the funds for prostitution is doing. Please do not allow these men to use you to relieve themselves on you. You are not a toilet, O.K

naume - 16 September 2013

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