SA returnees resort to sex work

MASVINGO - Sex work is on the rise here, with desperate women who returned home in the wake of attacks on foreigners in South Africa resorting to extreme measures to deal with their financial hardships, civil society groups have warned.

The attacks on foreigners — mainly from Zimbabwe, Somalia, Malawi, Mozambique and Nigeria — started in Durban in April following comments by Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini, suggesting that African migrants in South Africa were criminals who should go back to their countries and stop stealing jobs and opportunities from locals.

Machete and gun-wielding South Africans burned foreigners’ businesses and homes, looting goods, and forcing their inhabitants to flee. Six foreign nationals died in the attacks, which spread from Durban to other parts of the country, including Johannesburg.

Two Zimbabweans died in those clashes.

Local growth points and urban centres have been swarmed by females previously based in South Africa who have resorted to commercialising their bodies to eke out a living.

The sharp increase in women sex workers has hugely disrupted the chain of supply and demand, a climate in which competition for business is rife.

Women, jostling for clients, are forced to charge less and less. And, of course, clients have vastly reduced due to Zimbabwe’s economic meltdown. The result is an average fee of about $1 for “short time”.

Some prostitutes are also starting to offer riskier sex services that clients will pay more for, such as unprotected sex — which carries a premium price, but is contributing to the rise in HIV and STI cases.

“We are very worried with the rising rate of prostitution in various centres in the province since the return of our colleagues who fled xenophobia in South Africa,” said Lucia Masekesa, National Association of Non Governmental Organisations southern region board member at a human rights meeting held here last week.

“It’s sad that our young ladies have no option but to sell their bodies because they need to survive.”

There was an influx of commercial sex workers at growth points like Ngundu, Jerera and Mpandawana as well as in Masvingo city, rights groups noted.

“The economy they returned to is so bad that they can’t find employment anywhere and they are facing serious challenges to survive.

“They are young adults who need to take care of their small families in a country with a dying economy,” said Marble Sikhosana of Women Coalition of Zimbabwe Masvingo chapter.

Entrance Takaedza, Community Working Group on Health (CWGH), Masvingo coordinator, expressed fear of a sharp increase in STIs.

“The province, because of the rampant rise of commercial sex work, has left the entire community with fear of an impending outbreak

and rise of STIs,” Takaedza said.

“This is going to affect the entire province and possibly cost the lives of many people.”

Masvingo was last year affected by a drug-resistant sexually transmitted infection attributed to the movement of traders who visit neighbouring countries.

Rights groups said government was ill-prepared to deal with the disaster that faced the victims.

“Most of them came back empty-handed and were not given an option to eke out a living,” Masekesa said.

“There are no jobs in the country and government just dumps people without empowering or giving them an alternative as a means of survival, hence it should be taken to account for ruining the lives of these young people.”

Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister Shuvai Mahofa was unreachable for comment.

Comments (6)

Don,t say there are no jobs the whole country is full with self employed people and they all making money

jack - 17 June 2015

expect more prostitutes after the impending vendor clean up campaign

ike - 17 June 2015

If this era has to be remembered,it should best be along the lines of it's leaders ability to destroy the economy and the social fabric which has seen people flocking to other countries where the Zimbabwean culture was exposed to moral decadency.Back home the guys are showing what they learnt!

baba jukwa - 18 June 2015

Are you reporting about Xenophobia or prostitution?

Mhlanga - 18 June 2015

These ladies were probably doing the same here. It is simply Aluta continua. You need to visit the beer gardens in Johannesburg to get a glimpse of what I am talking about.

Greatman - 18 June 2015

Sadly Zimbabwe went the same way as most independent states in Africa except we went further than anyone else. The obvious exceptions being Botswana & Namibia. Hopefully the turnarounds in Zambia, Malawi & Mozambique are endure. Rebuilding Zimbabwe will be a mammoth task without all the skilled people of all races who have left to settle across the world.

saundy - 18 June 2015

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