Respect our trade: Sex workers

HARARE - Commercial sex workers yesterday warned that Zimbabwe’s hopes of complying with UN goals to end Aids by 2030 will be vain if their trade is not afforded respect and better treatment.

The sex workers told delegates attending Icasa in Harare yesterday that they are faced with a myriad challenges that range from violence from clients to stigma associated with selling sex as well as harassment by law enforcement agents.

Accessing legal and social services were other impediments sex workers want UNAids and governments to assist.

“If a sex worker goes into a hospital, he or she should be treated with dignity and respect, just like anyone else,” said a sex worker who only identified herself as Fabian.

Sharon Maziwa said: “As sex workers we are having challenges of accessing viral load machines, CD4 count machines, cervical cancer and even transport to get to hospitals.”

One sex worker from Kenya said her colleagues were being jailed in her home country “for having tested HIV-positive”.

Other sex workers also demanded a voice at international forums.

African Sex Workers Alliance said they had come face to face with the harsh reality being experienced by sex workers in Zimbabwe after government confiscated their workshop material ahead of Icasa.

“We did an assessment before we came here to see if our participants will be accepted. It is very disheartening to then have our workshop material confiscated and only given back on Monday,” the groups said in a statement.

Former Botswana minister of Health Sheila Tilou said despite the controversy surrounding the subject, it was the prerogative of Zimbabwe’s Health ministry to spearhead efforts of assisting sex workers.

“When I was minister, this subject was as much a controversy as it is now, but I couldn’t stand by and watch,” she said.

“I made considerable progress for the plight of sex workers. It can be done. No revolution was ever won without ruffling feathers. You have to push for your rights to be heard.”

On the issue of sex workers access to cervical cancer treatment, Tilou said Zimbabwe’s First Lady Grace Mugabe had a duty to protect vulnerable groups.

“African first ladies converged for the 9th Stop Cervical, Breast and Prostrate Cancer in Africa (SCCA) conference in Nairobi, Kenya from July 19-22, 2015 where they pledged to assist in the fight against cervical cancer,” she said.

Fadzai said poverty and lack of information have escalated the problem.

“I don’t want to be a sex worker but lack of opportunities have pushed me to this life but how can my family survive?” she asked rhetorically.

Zimbabwe is grappling to contain the damaging and raging effects of HIV and Aids, with 1,6 million people living with the virus as of end of 2014.

Comments (9)

Nyika yosvika kumagumo shuwa pfambi dzaakupiwawo mukana wekutaura zvaupfambi hwadzo- hamheno.

hezvo - 4 December 2015

Its better to respect the rights of sex workers than those of guys.

nyondo - 4 December 2015

What more do these people want, already they have Dr Fugu leading them.

Madiro - 4 December 2015

Very soon there shall be a right to kill. We are reasoning according to passions, not ethics.

David Dete - 4 December 2015

The oldest proffession never dies. Its important for sex workers to acknowledge first that their trade is illegal in this country as such they will not get better treatment worse respect. Carrying out illegal activities comes with huge risk [ clients] Stop having and charging your unprotected sex fee. It will kill you and other innocent souls. Use protection always. The moral background of this country's population will take time to come to a conclusion to de-criminalise prostitution. When it comes to health matters nearly everybody is struggling to get treatment of any nature. Look after yourself , if you fall dust yourself, sex trade is not for the faint hearted.

X-MAN IV - 4 December 2015

Hehe

Pym Mutubuki - 5 December 2015

all sex workers are working for darkness , they shall rip what they worked for, receive Jesus while it is day, the night is just around the corner.

ngwena - 6 December 2015

I belong to the International Thieves Association (ITA). We do not want to steal or to murder, but the lack of opportunities and economic situation drive us into this business. Otherwise how can our families survive? We want our rights and business recognized!!!!!!!!

tsholofelo - 7 December 2015

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