A SELF-CONFESSED prostitute from Epworth in Harare has claimed that civil servants, particularly soldiers and police officers, constituted the majority of the industry’s clients, but were notorious for using verbal threats to evade paying for “services rendered”.
BY EVERSON MUSHAVA
The lady of the night, who preferred to be called Mukotopeya, told a United Nations Population Fund-organised media workshop in Bulawayo on Wednesday that most soldiers used verbal threats to avoid payment, while police officers always dangled their handcuffs to get “free sex”.
“Civil servants are our regular clients, but they don’t want to pay. Soldiers hire our services for the whole night, but when it comes to paying, they threaten us saying: ‘I work at KG6. What products did you supply me that you want me to pay for?’
“Police officers arrest us as a way of soliciting for free sex. We end up sleeping with them because we cannot afford to be arrested when our children have no food,” Mukotopeya said.
She said on a busy night, she could service between 10 and 15 men.
Mukotopeya, who is a mother of four, is expecting her fifth child.
She said she found herself on the streets about 15 years ago after her husband brought another woman.
Her husband forced her to watch them being intimate on their matrimonial bed.
She said that was one of the many reasons that traumatised her so much that she decided to leave her husband and ply the streets as a sex worker because she could not go back to her parents’ home for fear of reprisals.
The woman claimed there were so many women who were educated and married, but had joined the world’s oldest profession because of unemployment.
Mukotopeya revealed that men living with HIV and circumcised men usually wanted unprotected sex.
Circumcised men, she said, claimed that they would not contract HIV that causes Aids or sexually transmitted diseases.
“You journalists, you are our mouth piece. We expect you to carry out messages to His Excellency (President Robert Mugabe). We are doing this because we don’t have jobs and we want to look after our children,” she said.
Another sex worker from Bulawayo, who preferred to be identified as Khetiwe, said besides being harassed by the police on a daily basis, she loved her job because it earned her a “decent living”.
She said their biggest challenge was that they were being subjected to inhuman treatment at public hospitals each time they sought treatment for sexually transmitted infections and HIV.
National sex work programme co-ordinator Sibongile Mtetwa said she was in the process of facilitating access to HIV testing and treatment to over 12 000 prostitutes on their registers.
UNPF programme analyst for key affected population Samson Chidiya challenged people to look at prostitution with new lenses and find ways of integrating them into society so that they take a leading role in the fight against HIV and Aids.