ZIMBABWE PREPARES TO WELCOME THOUSANDS OF TOURISTS
TO VICTORIA FALLS FOR THE UNITED NATIONS WORLD TOURISM
ORGANIZATION GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN AUGUST 2013
SPECIAL REPORT BY XINHUA CORRESPONDENT
HARARE (Xinhua) — As Zimbabwe prepares to welcome thousands of tourists to Victoria Falls for the United Nations World Tourism Organization general assembly in August 2013, it has also begun contemplating how to deal with a different kind of tourist that will definitely “grace” the occasion – prostitutes.
Although the Secretary for Tourism and Hospitality Industry Sylvester Maunganidze told Parliament Monday that those suspected to be soliciting for purposes of prostitution would be arrested, experience of past events of such a magnitude elsewhere points to local police stations being overwhelmed by the situation.
All over the world, commercial sex workers are attracted to huge international gatherings; from the Olympic Games to the Football World Cup tournament and even political events. And come August 2013, Zimbabwe will not be spared.
Delegates will come from at least 176 countries and some will not only want to sample the flora and fauna and other physical attractions offered by the country, but also seek adventure in other social spheres.
Incidentally, the country’s tourism promotion agency, the Zimbabwe Tourism Authority, has given it a new brand: “ Zimbabwe —A World of Wonders”.
Maunganidze is at least being practical by accepting that even the delegates would be eager to meet Zimbabwean women, warning that they would be angry if the authorities barred the commercial sex workers from the resort.
He acknowledged that Zimbabweans generally turned a blind eye towards the commercial sex workers but said the nation would not advertise their services as what happens in other countries.
A journalist working with a women’s organization told Xinhua that she saw nothing wrong with allowing the commercial sex workers into Victoria Falls during the general assembly.
“Yes (they should be allowed) because without the professionals the general assembly will be a flop. Men love having fun and that fun comes from women and who could entertain for a fee and will too much fun besides sex workers?”
She was worried, however, that Zimbabwean women could lose out to foreigners such as Zambians, whom she said were more beautiful.
“Zambians are more beautiful so I am of the opinion that foreigners should not be allowed in Victoria Falls . Zimbabweans will thus benefit since they will be the only indigenous women around. That’s my take,” she said.
A former model based in Bulawayo did not give reasons for her suggestion, only saying that delegates should bring their own partners.
However, there will be another type of commercial sex worker in the form of gays and lesbians that the authorities may not turn a blind eye on.
Although many Zimbabweans accept that prostitution is rife in the country, most frown upon same sex relationships and the police are quick to arrest those who are caught in the act.
Political parties working on a new constitution for the country are divided over the matter, with President Robert Mugabe’s Zanu- PF against the inclusion of homosexuality as a human right while the other parties accept it as such.
Some people argue that homosexuals should be left alone as long as they do their act in private and do not offend their fellow predominantly conservative countrymen and countrywomen.
Zimbabwe launches water
conservation awareness campaign
HARARE (Xinhua) — The Zimbabwean government on Friday launched the Water Conservation Awareness and Zero Litter Campaign in Harare .
At the launching ceremony, Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai called on every Zimbabwean to take responsibility in conserving the environment and water, saying that the country must never witness a repeat of cholera outbreak in 2008.
“Local authorities must be given powers to arrest and fine offenders of environmental crimes,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Arthur Mutambara also encouraged all the ministries to initiate good environmental policies for the development of the country and ensure that they are fully implemented.
“Follow through with good coordination and ensure that they are implemented for the country to be developed,” Mutambara said.
The government launched the campaign in collaboration with the Harare City Council and the Institute of Water and Sanitation Development.
Line ministries including the Ministry of Local Government, Rural and Urban Development, Ministry of Water Resources Development and Management, Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources Management and the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare made passionate pleas to the public to protect their environment.
Musician Derrick Mpofu of the ‘Chisikana changu Zimbabwe ’ fame was bestowed goodwill ambassador for the conservation awareness and zero litter campaign.
The campaign has been necessitated by the shortages of water against an ever increasing demand as well as the increase in indiscriminate disposal of garbage.
A 10-year-old boy shook when asked about being prostituted to two other men by an adoptive father who regularly had sex with him, according to police, who said the boy was fearful of talking because he didn’t want to be taken from his home or separated from his new siblings.
The adoptive father has been charged with raping three boys in his care and compelling prostitution by hiring the 10-year-old out for sex. He and two other men remained in jail on rape charges.
Federal and local law enforcement officials said they’re widening the investigation into child sexual exploitation allegations against the father, who worked out of his home as an insurance claims adjuster. His name is being withheld to protect the children’s identities.
Troy police said they impounded the father’s truck and seized four laptops from the home and a video camera and…
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Police Routinely Confiscate Condoms from Sex Workers, Increasing HIV Risk Says Open Society Foundations – Condom Possession Is Used by Some Prosecutors as Evidence of Criminal Activity
NEW YORK, July 17, 2012 /PRNewswire via African Press Organization (APO)/ — New research from six countries found that stop-and-search practices by the police are making sex workers less likely to carry condoms, said the Open Society Foundations today.
The report, Criminalizing Condoms, surveyed sex workers in Kenya, Namibia, Russia, South Africa, the United States, and Zimbabwe and found that police practices made it more likely that sex workers would have unprotected sex with their clients.
The law enforcement practices documented in the report fly in the face of government programs aimed at preventing the spread of HIV.
“While one arm of government works to get condoms into people’s hands, another is taking them away,” said Heather Doyle, Director…
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Commercial Sex Workers demonstrate to protest harassment by authorities and call for protection of their human rights in Nairobi March 6, 2012. The workers said they were ready to remit taxes to the government as long as they are recognised and their rights protected. JAYNE NGARI
Sex workers have said they are ready to remit taxes to the government as long as they are recognised and their rights protected.
The Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA) Tuesday argued that they are in an “industry that controls massive revenue” which would otherwise contribute to the economy of the country if tapped by the taxman.
“There is a lot of revenue in the industry and we are ready to pay our taxes if the government decriminalises sex workers in this country,” said Doughtie Ogutu, one of the KESWA founders.
Their position came just weeks…
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Prostitutes are good for Uganda’s economy. They spend a fortune on clothes, shoes and make-up. They also keep a certain section of the population happy. Yet sex workers are discriminated against and deprived of HIV/AIDS education. Some hope to change that.
“Clients can rape me, steal my money or clothes or leave without paying me. They know I can’t go to the police because, as a sex worker, I’ll get arrested,” says Daisy Nakato. The 30-year-old Ugandan started getting paid for sex when she was 17.
“What I do is illegal. Every time I see a uniform, I need to run,” she continues. “Same goes for healthcare. My job is a strain to my body, but when I go to the doctor, I have to lie. Because when I tell the truth, they will call everybody to come stare at me. I fear going to the hospital. But I’m also a citizen, a human being.”
Daisy was infected with HIV by one of her first clients. Still, she regularly services over 20 men a night.
In her opinion, Uganda’s current government programmes that aim to beat the disease are useless. “They have all these fancy slogans on how to prevent HIV/AIDS, but they completely bypass sex workers,” says Daisy. “All these men I give sex to are either married or involved with other people. So if the government doesn’t inform and protect me as a sex worker, they’re not protecting anyone.”
Daisy thinks she could help. “The government should see sex workers as good allies in the fight against HIV/AIDS. We should sit around the same table. What’s the point in spending money on TV adverts and awareness programmes on the radio when we have frequent power cuts? Why target families when it’s the prostitutes who have sex with the husbands just hours before the wives do?”
There is also the occasional request for “live sex” – that is, unprotected intercourse. “They offer to pay me more when we skip the condom bit,” she explains. “I tell them that no money in the world can protect your health, but a condom can. Although I sell sex, I don’t sell lives.”
“I educate my clients on safe sex and what diseases they could otherwise contract. By the time I get to the point where they might lose their penis through a sexually transmitted disease, they’re usually convinced. You see, some nights I’m more of a professional social worker than a sex worker.”
“To talk freely with a minister about the dangers and possibilities of sex work would never happen in Uganda,” she says. “Instead, the Ministry of Ethics and Integrity boycotts our reproductive health and empowerment meetings and fails to distribute enough condoms and lubricants.”
Enough condoms and coffee
Meeting with Dutch prostitutes was also a revelation. “These women are so confident!” Daisy exclaims. “People smile and wave, there are social workers and security officers around, they have a bathroom to do their make-up and there are enough condoms and coffee to make it through the night. If only this would be the case in Uganda.”
“We’re good people,” she adds. “We vote, and we pay taxes. Especially the high-class sex workers, [they] wear fancy clothes and shoes on which they pay a lot of tax. So we should be valued, respected and loved. I don’t think people would survive if sex workers decide to go on strike. Sex is therapy and some people need daily ‘counselling’. If your boss is cranky, you know he didn’t get good sex last night. At least we give everybody good treatment. You could say we sex workers keep up the morale of Uganda!”
Clean and caressing, that’s the reputation Chinese sex workers have among men in Douala. Our local correspondent investigates this new penchant for prostitutes in Cameroon’s economic capital.
Anne Mireille Nzouankeu, Douala
“Chan means ‘beautiful young girl’, and it is one of the most common names in China. That is why I use it to hide my true identity,” she says in broken English. The 20-something year old has been in Cameroon for just four months
Chan does not like to be called ‘prostitute’ or ‘sex worker’. She prefers, simply, ‘worker’. In fact, she frowns every time the word ‘sex’ mentioned.
“During the day, I work as a saleswoman at a store in Chinatown,” she explains. “In the evening, I come to the hotel to relax. Sometimes clients from the snack bar want girls to keep them company, so we go to a quiet place to chat.”
There are two brothels in Douala known to offer the services of Chinese sex workers. According to Gautier Mboulinou, who works at the non-profit organization AIDS Acodev Cameroon, there are “probably many more that we do not know of” and their client base is constantly growing.
At Chan’s hotel, the words ‘sex’ and ‘money’ are not used in the same sentence. To be hired, a sex worker must be recommended by the hotel staff. The women are only seen when entering the room with a client.
“Chinese people are very discreet,” says Mboulinou.
“Clean and smell nice”
J.M., a regular client at the hotel for the past seven months, expands on what happens in the “quiet places” Chan refers to.
“The prices vary from 5,000 to 10,000 CFA francs [about 7.60 to 15.20 euros], depending on whether one wants to spend 15, 30, 45 or 60 minutes with a woman. An additional 10,000 CFA francs is added for the cost of the room,” he explains.
“I first went with a Chinese woman out of curiosity, just to touch her Asian skin and find out if the sex was different. But I kept going back because I was satisfied,” he explains.
According to J.M., who has been with both Cameroonian and Chinese prostitutes, there is a clear difference. The latter are seen as more professional.
“The Chinese women are clean and smell nice. They are always fresh, as though they shower between clients. The Cameroonian sex workers, on the other hand, always smell of sweat. I think it comes from the fact that our sisters only wipe themselves with toilet paper after the intercourse, and then return to the street or bars. In fact, there are no showers in the rooms Cameroonian prostitutes use,” he remarks.
J.M. also finds a major difference when it comes to the sex itself. “The Chinese girl smiles, she undresses you, caresses you, giving the impression she really wants you. During the act, she seems to enjoy herself. I don’t know if the pleasure is genuine or just a simulation,” he says while drinking a glass of whiskey. “On the other hand, our Cameroonian sisters just lie down and spread their legs. They don’t want any caressing or kissing, almost like the act of sex is a real bore that they want to be over quickly.”
Mboulinou, who often approaches the women as part of Acodev’s sensitization campaigns, notes that the Chinese prostitutes tend to be aware of good sexual health practices.
“Chinese sex workers always carry their own condoms and categorically refuse to use those brought by their Cameroonian clients. As far as we know, they always use protection,” he says.
However, Mboulinou also says some clients report that Chinese sex workers often use their nails or teeth to tear through the condom wrapper, potentially compromising the condom inside.
“They are sometimes ill-informed about the various ways in which the HIV virus is transmitted. We say that because some often ask if the disease has visible signs on the sexual organ or on the face,” he notes.
Inasmuch as Chan may be uncomfortable talking about sex for sale, she is outspoken when it comes to protection. “I always use a condom and I have no health problems,” she says. “Even if I do get some minor diseases, Chinese medicine is very efficient.”
In Zambia, it would normally be considered ‘taboo’ for women to make a public appeal for a marriage partner. But this mentality is changing thanks to a popular reality TV show which aims to give reformed sex-workers a fresh start in life.
By Emmanuel Chawe in Lusaka
A privately-owned television channel called Muvi TV in Lusaka has recruited 18 former sex-workers from different parts of Zambia to take part in a reality TV show called ‘Ready 4 Marriage Extraordinary.’
The idea is that the women introduce themselves live on television and explain what they are looking for in a marriage partner. After the marriage pitches, the audience has the opportunity to vote for their favourite contestant. The winning bride to be receives a cash prize of $9,000 (6,530 euros) as well as financial assistance to cover their wedding costs. The eliminated contestants also receive consolation prizes of $1,000- 1,500 (725 – 1,088 euros).
According to Muvi TV producers, the aim of the programme is to give all the contestants a ‘fresh start’ in life: “We want to bring change to the 18 women that Muvi TV has taken on. We’re trying to change and the social aspect of it despite the compromising situation they have put themselves in,” spokesperson Corrina Paolini said. “We’re also training them in various skills including counselling.”
Some contestants explained to RNW that they resorted to prostitution because life was hard and they had families to look after. “When my husband died and left me with five children and all his assets his family was not happy about the situation. I could still be living in the house we built together but in the end I was forced to sell it,” said 33-year-old contestant, Flaviour Wakunguma.
“My father died and my mother got sick and I needed to help her. So I started prostitution out of desperation,” said Jacqueline Kachingwe, another contestant. “Even if I come on TV and people know that I was in prostitution I don’t mind because this is the only way I can show that I really want to reform,” explained the 23-year-old.
The reality show has received its fair share of criticism and praise among viewers.
“What’s wrong with asking for marriage?” asks Beatrice Banda, a mother of one. “It is good that they are willing to look for a better life in this era of HIV/AIDS.” Alick Musonda, another follower of the show agrees: “Muvi TV deserves some praise… What’s important is that they have shown willingness to reform.”
But Christine Lishebo disagrees with the concept. “Why should you have to parade yourself on television in order to ask for marriage? To me that amounts to dangerous desperation,” Lishebo said. “And those people don’t really change as they claim, so whoever marries them should be prepared.”
Negative moral impact
Since the reality show made its debut five years ago, it has been heavily criticised by the church, who claims the programme has a negative moral impact on society.
Aside from scoring excellent audience ratings – particularly with young people and Zambian women, the television producers reiterate that they aim to help all of the contestants find full-time jobs so that they do not return to a life of prostitution.
Seven days a week, Nthombozuko can be found at a truck stop in Epping, an industrial zone in Cape Town. She spends the night hours here servicing sex-seeking men. Although she hates her work, she hopes that prostitution might one day be seen as any other form of employment.
By Miriam Mannak, Cape Town
“Some women like this work, but I don’t. Some clients are aggressive, some don’t want to use a condom, and others refuse to pay,” Nthombozuko says.
Although this is not her dream job, the 30 year old does dream of a day when sex work can be recognized as all other forms of employment, allowing prostitutes to enjoy the same rights as the rest of the labour force – instead of being pitted against the law.
Nthombozuko started selling sex nine years ago when her mother could no longer support her six children. After quitting high school, she desperately tried to find a job to help her family make ends meet. When all attempts failed, she decided to offer sex in exchange for money.
“It was my only option,” she explains. “It is still my only option. And no, my mother does not know.”
Equal rights for sex workers
That is why Nthombozuko decided to attend the ‘Equal rights for sex workers’ workshop on the issue of feminism. Hosted by the Cape Town-based Sex Workers Education and Advocacy Taskforce (SWEAT) last month, the event drew about 50 sex workers, both men and women.
“Feminism is about equality [between all people and workers], and not just about women enjoying the same rights as men,” said SWEAT executive director Sally-Jean Shackleton, explaining the theme of the workshop. “Sex workers want and deserve the same rights as other people, too.”
“In South Africa feminism has to go beyond wanting equal rights and power for men and women,” added feminist researcher Benita Moolman. “It should be about inclusiveness of everyone, including sex workers.”
Throughout the workshop, the attendees themselves also spoke, discussing the hardships and discrimination they face, why they want equality and the reasons they reverted to prostitution.
Anita, for example, from the township of Gugulethu, some 40 kilometres outside Cape Town’s city centre, turned to sex work after the father of her then unborn daughter left her.
This was 12 years ago. “I had to stop school and find a job,” she recalled. “There was no one to support my child and me. My mother was unemployed. Sex work was my only option. There was no work.”
“We are not criminals”
After three years of making a living in this way, Anita stopped, instead taking up a job as a domestic worker. When her employers moved overseas, though, she picked up her old profession.
Today she does not particularly hate the work, though doesn’t like it either. According to her: “Not all clients are nice, and the cops make our lives difficult. They arrest us, beat us, harass us, bribe us and force you to have sex with them in return to let you go.”
One night, when she was busy with a client, a cop busted her and tried to extort a bribe. He said he would let her go if she paid him 200 rand (about 20 euros).
Not only did Anita refuse, but she took revenge. “I called the police station, told them what had happened, and gave them the officer’s car registration plate. I heard he was suspended for six months.”
Being a mother to three daughters, Anita admits that she sometimes struggles with her identity. “My children don’t know about it, and neither does the aunt [referring to a close family friend] where my kids stay when I am working. Only one of my sisters knows. I am not ready to tell others.”
Waiting for feminism
Like Nthombozuko, Anita wants the feminist movement to take hold in the sex industry.
“We are workers like anyone else,” she says. “Criminalizing us will not make us go away. Sex is not a crime. We just want to earn a living and feed our children. The problem is that there are no other opportunities.”
While South Africa has a progressive constitution – take, for instance, the legalization of gay marriage – society is rather conservative. It is therefore doubtful that Anita and Nthombozuko will enjoy the same rights as the average office clerk any time soon.