Prostitution: Choice or circumstance?

HARARE - It is six o’clock in the evening and  Majubheki Lines, a slum location in Harare’s first high density area — Mbare — is a hive of activity as people are coming in and going out from different directions.

Shamiso Mara (not her real name) clad in a grey mini skirt, black top which only covers her breasts and wearing brown stilettos, joins a horde of other ladies who are already queuing in pursuit for clients for the night. 

Call them commercial sex workers, thigh vendors, ladies of the night or prostitutes, they are not an unusual feature in the Majubheki Lines most notably along Jack Bakasa Crescent where more than 30 sex workers are queueing for business.

The oldest profession has been regarded as immoral and evil in the eyes of the Lord.

Mara, a divorcee with four children under her custody, could not find any other way of survival and that of supporting her children. She ventured into this profession five years ago after she found herself between a rock and a hard place.

“I resorted to this kind of work not by choice but as a means of survival and to ensure that my family can have food on the table and a proper education. As of now, I haven’t paid school fees let alone rent where I’m staying,” she lamented.

She says life has not been a bed of roses in her profession as they encounter various challenges in the jungle where survival of the fittest is core.

They charge $2 for what they call short time (that is a single session) and $15 for the whole night, fees Mara explained some clients can’t even meet forcing her to accept $1 or $1.50 for a short time.

“Clients are scarce these days,” Mara said highlighting that at times she cannot get a single client and usually now takes home less than $10 the whole night.

“It’s a difficult life, I wish I had a choice then I could leave this life. Some clients refuse to pay for services rendered, claiming that such services are not supposed to be paid for,” Mara claimed. 

As if that was not enough, police raids are very common in Mara’s line of work which she complains negatively

affects their business by scaring away potential clients.

She lamented how five groups of police officers patrol her business area during the night and if one is caught and can’t pay something one will spend the night behind bars.

“Imagine the peanuts we are struggling to get in order to feed our families — if arrested the police would want all of it. How then are we going to survive if all we have worked for is taken from us by the police,” she said.

In 2011, Thabitha Khumalo, Bulawayo East MDC legislator once controversially proposed that prostitution in Zimbabwe be decriminalised. She stated that decriminalising prostitution would address three important issues, corruption, HIV/Aids and women’s rights.

Prostitution is believed to be the oldest profession in the world, which seems to be wearing a woman’s face.  These women are known by their seductive and revealing attire meant to attract clients.

Four women, who ply this trade at Majubheki Lines, concurred that it’s a survival issue

because they cannot think of any other way to eke out a living.

“Some police officers even force their way inside our houses, if we manage to run away from them. They are not considerate enough to realise we are not here by choice but due to circumstances,” Mara said.

Memory Mataranyika, an informal trader residing in Mbare, fears the repercussions that come with this kind of business.

In addition, she noted that prostitution is not the only way for one to survive as these women can engage in alternative means of earning money by working as housemaids.

“This is a clear sign of laziness and these people just need a quick way of making money which has huge implications not just on the individuals involved but the rest of the society especially during this age of the pandemic,(HIV/Aids) ” Mataranyika said.

She also noted the dangers that come with the job as other clients demand unprotected sex dangling higher fees.

“This business is dangerous and women should find better ways of survival rather than putting their lives at risk. Besides the health risks, such a life is just not peaceful,” Mataranyika pointed out.

As these women roam and wander in their areas where they are soliciting for sex in exchange for cash, they maintain they are prepared to leave this work.

Comments (10)

Sally that's a good story sisi.......Keep it up

Clemence Tashaya - 16 March 2014

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Yaa I think this profession needs a second thought. Lets weight its pros and cons. I am one such person who fails to grapple with this trade whether its good or not, (for the individual and her clients and the society at large)

Thinkwell - 17 March 2014

You can't sacrifice your life for another life,find proper ways of earning life

hony - 17 March 2014

I think these ladies haven`t been through "proper" hardships.We all know life is really really tough in Zimbabwe but you see mothers with babies on their backs vending tomatoes,fruts etc in town to eke a living even if they are raided by municipal police and have their wares confiscatated on top they pay a fine.Why do they not turn to prostitutes?Ask these prostitues have they ever vended in the streets?My guess is hell no,why because they want us to feel sorry for them ,for what?Its plain and simple they like the bling life with the flashy clothes and quick cash and they are simply paying a price for the life they want to live.You even see disabled people on wheelchairs(God bless their souls) selling pirated discs why cant these prostitues do that.If they say circumstances forced them then i guess all of Harare is going to turn to prostituition because "circumstances will have forced us".vabvunzei kuti havana kumusha here vanhu ava,kana zvanetsa like what happened after Operation Murambatsvina those who found the going tough simply migrated kumusha where they are now small scale farmers living a decent a respectable life.

Mhofu - 18 March 2014

Business partner sought for international voice traffic termination.Equipment already sourced partner sought for connectivity costs and other. There are 3 million Zimbabweans living in diaspora.And they make phone calls every minute back home. Local GSM companies working in cohorts with local regulator have shut out this business to themselves. Ok imagine more than 3 million minutes per day calling Zim at a margin of 10 c per minute ? The present calling rates are absurd.But thanks to the internet there are cheaper solutions. : + 263739471925 .

Henry K - 18 March 2014

Howcum there are no male prostitutes interviewed for the story? Women and men are equal in society, so there must be men servicing female customers out there.

dr doowop - 9 April 2014

All own correspondents desperate for published works will always write about prostitutes. How many times has this kind of thing been published? A thousand times! And why is it that the writers always give a fictitious version of a woman driven into prostitution by difficult circumstances? Aren't there girls who are into it because of choice? Haven't you heard of girls who fled university or are secretaries, waitresses etc by the day and prostitutes by the night? What is their justification? Haven't you heard of childless girls who are into prostitution yet they have no responsibilities to look after? Editors have become lazy these days. These are stories which should now be thrown into the dustbins long be publication. Good day

terere - 15 April 2014


mukanya - 26 April 2014


mukanya - 26 April 2014

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