HomeLocal NewsExclusive interview with Shakira, a commercial sex worker

Exclusive interview with Shakira, a commercial sex worker


The following interview between Shakira (Sh) and writer, Beaullah T Mbirimi (BTM) might give a glimpse into the life of Commercial Sex Workers (CSW).

Shakira is a lady in her mid 30’s who loves life! She wishes to use her business name, Shakira because, according to her, what she does during the day is not what she does at night.

Read on:
BTM: Hi Shakira. Please feel free and use the language you are comfortable with.
SH: Thanks.

BTM: Nice name, Shakira, who gave you that name?
SH: Actually . . . it’s like — Shakira is my trade name. My real name, I’ll tell you time time. You see, you must use a name that’s attractive, not names like Mary, Anna or Faith. Christian names put off customers.

BTM: Tell me about your job. You seem to talk a lot about it. What really goes on?
SH: Madam, there is nothing shameful about my job. It’s been there before I was born and I shall die and leave it there. There are big fish out there and you know, big fish come out when it’s dark, so don’t think you will see me dressed like this in the evenings. Don’t even greet me coz I will be busy.

BTM: You haven’t told me anything about your job.
SH: Ok. In prostitution, we make money. There is never a dry day. Can’t tell you about our customers, but we get picked up at a place we call Highway. Wherever you find us from Fife Avenue corners, along Mazorodze Road because truck drivers pay good money if you make them happy.

BTM: Don’t you have a steady boyfriend?
SH: I have. He picked me from there but he’s very understanding because you see, my dressing and clothes, come from him. Even my children like him and call him by his name or uncle.

BTM: So why do you go back to the streets?
SH: If he doesn’t give me money for food or even to retouch my hair, where does he think I get it from? He knows where to find me coz that’s where he found me.

BTM: You mentioned children, don’t you worry they will be influenced by your job?
SH: Not at all. My kids know me as a steady mother who goes to college mornings, afternoons am home, fulltime housewife — Monday to Thursdsay — come evenings, I go (after telling them ) for a drink and Friday of course is a busy day, throughout.

BTM: If you happen to return home drunk and having changed clothes, don’t they get worried?
SH: I don’t drink beer, I don’t smoke anything, but I enjoy myself and the pay feeds them anyway.

BTM: Tell me Shakira, do you really enjoy this sex work — tell the truth.
SH: Truly speaking I don’t find any fun in it except if there is braai involved.

Otherwise I just do it to feed my children and to make sure that they go to school. I really don’t like the way men treat us like mops or doormats.

Some expect us to perform crazy styles as though we are not human and when we complain we get beaten up.

Right now a friend is in hospital with a fractured arm which was twisted by a client who was refusing to pay because he said it was expensive to book in a lodge and we both enjoyed.

The woman in me is not respected when we are out there in the streets.

BTM: Are you a Christian?
SH: Mother, let me tell you something. Some of our customers are Pastors, Deacons and big time Christians so haa!

Yes as for church I go anywhere I am invited. These days am going for crusades at the Sports Centre or City Sports somewhere in town.

I don’t like going to church only to find the person I was with last night now on the pulpit, how will I listen to the message or sermon? Mother, there was one girl called Sunday who used to work on Sunday only going out with church leaders.

She made big bucks, but unfortunately she is six feet down (dead and buried) as we speak. One of the Pastors who had come from outside Harare is my big suspect, but she is gone, life goes on.

BTM: Are you enjoying the services?
SH: Mother, I enjoy music and dancing. Demons are running, my God demons of prostitution, mermaids, thieves etc. are being cast out.

BTM: So did you join the prayer line?
SH: What for? I’m not sick and I don’t have a demon. I only go to church for the music.

BTM: Tell me, Shakira, do you want to continue doing your job or can you accept help — you and others, to do something positive to look after yourselves and your families?
SH:You might win with people like me who had no choice after three men promised marriage before impregnanting me.

All promised marriage, but two went back to their estranged wives and the third quickly went to the Diaspora — one way ticket.

But madam there are others who just can’t sleep alone at night. Every night, even day, because they have spirits from their great, great, great grandmothers who died doing it. Forget, you won’t win this kind.

BTM: But you said pastor is healing them.
SH: Those who want to be healed are being healed, but there are others who still want the demon, these are hard.

BTM: Ok. Back to you Shakira. How are you finding your studies?
SH:The computers are not very easy, but games I can play to the last level. Receptionist was easy cause my English is good. I know it, have a B at “O” level, you see?

BTM: What is it you really want to do, if you had not been given the free secretarial course?
SH: I want to have my own company and be my own boss because I am short-tempered. But I’ll continue with this course because I have seen some secretaries and receptionists bossing people around.

BTM: I’m sure by the end of your course you’ll find that Secretaries are not taught to be bossy. Maybe you will do a management course and learn how to manage people.
SH: Yah, if I get a sponsor because I’ll have to be going to the streets full time to pay the fees.

BTM: I’m sure you can find a sponsor if you approach the right people. So how long are you giving yourself before you give up being a commercial sex worker?
SH: As long as I’m not in a full-time job, I’m here to stay.

BTM: Shakira, what good thing have you done in your work?
SH: Mothers, very small girls, too young to join us come to the highway thinking it is easy. I tell them it’s cold out there and explain that they should go to school or to work and do something better in life. Isn’t that good to discourage young girls from falling into pits?

BTM: Well done, Shakira. So are you admitting that sex work is bad?
SH: It’s work mother.

BTM: Aren’t you afraid of the deadly disease?
SH: No. there’s a clinic sponsored especially for us. Free testing, free CD4 count, free treatment and free medicine and there are workshops.

I am a peer educator, have done counselling training so I know how to protect myself. And mother, don’t you ever think it’s us who spread Aids.

It’s happening in offices broad daylight – those big offices and boardrooms become bedrooms for big bosses and secretaries or co-workers.

You think they have time to look for condoms for those short times in offices? Yet you say being a sex worker is bad, but we are well protected.

BTM: Are you free to go on national TV to contribute your views, say on Mai Chisamba Show?
SH: No thanks, but maybe just to be in the audience, not to publicise myself.

One day I’ll stop this job so how will I face my children and relatives after having been seen on TV? They won’t respect me, I tell you so let me just stay low. Sorry to cut this conversation short coz I have to pick up my Zero Grade son from school now.

BTM: Thank you very much for your time Shakira. I would like to see you in a month’s time and check if you have changed. Is it OK?
SH: Anytime mothers!

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