Zimbabwe’s widely reported economic challenges made worse by the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdowns have left sex workers across the country in dire straits.
Some of the sex workers last Friday said that they were seriously considering quitting the oldest “profession” for good.
Sex workers in Mashonaland Central and Mashonaland East provinces told journalists on a National Aids Council (NAC)-organised media tour that just like any other sector, “thigh vending” was no longer rosy.
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In Dema, Seke district in Mashonaland East sex workers said they now resorted to bartering their services with maize or beans.
Speaking to reporters at Dema growth point on Friday, one sex worker said:
We charge US$5 for short time, but if push comes to shove we can accept payment in the form of food.
I can have sex for a bucket of maize, especially in this time of COVID-19.
We are even accepting to sleep with men for US$1 because it’s no longer that rosy out there.
The sex workers were attending a Key Affected Populations session meant to reduce HIV and STIs infection convened by NAC.
District AIDS coordinator for Seke Florence Nyandoro said apart from sexual and reproductive health training, they were also training sex workers on financial education. She said:
We also make sure that these women are trained in finance education so that they come up with income-generating programmes.
However, this model Key Affected Populations is targeted at sex workers with the aim of reducing HIV and STI infections.
Nyandoro said the HIV prevalence rate in the Seke district was 12.7%.
In Macheke sex workers appealed to authorities to reopen clubs and bars.
Priviledge Manyasha, an 18-year-old sex worker in Macheke said business was at a standstill. She said:
We are in dire straits. Our business has come to a standstill. We appeal to authorities to reopen clubs and bars.
We used to come to this place [Chibhazi], but these days the police are after us making life difficult for us.