I was listening to Star FM one morning when these two affable presenters started a discussion on prostitution.
Saturday Dialogue with Yvonne Gasura
Interestingly enough, they tried to justify why many young women, especially those in universities or who have graduated, are turning to prostitution to maintain their lifestyles or just to earn a living.
They said economic challenges bedevilling the country, the high unemployment rate –estimated to be hovering around 90%, and the HIV and Aids pandemic have forced many young women into prostitution. Most college graduates, with their degrees in hand, are failing to secure employment.
Young girls in colleges who want to live it up or some who cannot afford accommodation and decent meals have found a way out through shedding their clothes.
But, can prostitution, the world’s oldest profession, be justified in any way?
For novices, prostitution can seem rosy, judging by the flashy lifestyles led by some of their peers, but it is not as attractive as it appears. Our society is not so kind to women who shed their clothes for a living.
It tends to shun or ostracise women of loose morals. No one wants to be associated with or to be seen in the company of sex workers.
Even families can turn on members who make a living through prostitution.
Besides enjoying the company of the occasional client, who after all doesn’t want to be seen in their [night ladies] company during the day, prostitutes lead lonely lives.
Some do not have life partners or sound relationships with their children, relatives or siblings.
Since we are social beings, being shunned by society can be traumatising. Women who use their body as a means to an end face many hurdles in their quest for financial freedom.
They can be victims of sexual and physical assault.
We have even heard reports of clients who turn violent if the sex workers refuse to perform certain services or demand payment for services rendered.
Others might be unfortunate enough to come across clients who are sadists or rapists by nature and suffer the consequences.
Since the woman has objectified herself, the purchaser of “the object” feels he has the right to do whatever he desires with that “object” they have acquired.
Negotiating for safe sex becomes a challenge for the prostitute.
The risk of being exposed to HIV and Aids and other sexually transmitted infections is high.
A client can offer to pay more in order to engage in unprotected sex, and with the lady of the night being desperate for money, she is most likely to comply.
Some prostitutes have also confessed to engaging in unprotected sex with their regular clients because they “trust them”, which is a very risky action.
Not only are they at risk of sexually transmitted infections, but they are also likely to fall pregnant.
Prostitutes are also good candidates of drug and substance abuse as they try to cover up their emotional scars. Stripping for a living is not an easy task alone. It takes its toll on one’s mental health.
The abuse suffered at the hands of men can lead to one using drugs and alcohol as way of escaping.
This is the reason why some prostitutes have been calling for legalisation of their trade, but this is unlikely to solve their problems.
The United States State Department website says: “Where prostitution is legalised or tolerated, there is a greater demand for human trafficking victims and nearly always an increase in the number of women and children trafficked into commercial sex slavery. Oddly, the Netherlands, Australia, and Germany, all of whom have legalised prostitution received top marks from the Bush Administration in the most recent Trafficking in Persons Report.”
In the Netherlands, Amsterdam’s red light district, where prostitution is legal, young girls are sold or forced into prostitution by poverty.
These women and girls are abused by both clients and pimps. They are literally owned by pimps and brothel owners.
Legalising prostitution will not make the trade acceptable, admirable or reputable in our society.
It is a trade that not only demeans the woman, but has a negative impact on her family as well.
The problem we have as women is we always play the victim card.
Failure to take charge of our situation and seeking the easiest way out is not anyone’s fault, but ours. I would say at times we reap what we sow.
The whole nation is facing serious economic challenges with over 90% of the workforce out of formal employment.
Many productive Zimbabweans have turned to the informal sector as alternative employment.
Women who choose prostitution do it at their own peril. They should not expect to be handed the world on a platter.
I admire the women who brave the cold and rainy nights on the streets of most towns some with babies strapped on their backs vending for a living.
They have made the choice not to seek the easy way out, but fight for survival. There are women who are doing cross-border trading or toiling on their small farms, tilling the land to feed their families.
Though we struggle to get by as Zimbabweans, choosing a demeaning profession should not be the option for our young girls.
If a woman values herself, no matter her circumstance, prostitution should not be the way out.
For those women who are already in the trade, I say learn to value yourselves.
Be positive-minded, take the first step towards positive living, acquire an entrepreneurial skill and do something positive with your life. Seek to be relevant.
If these women want to transform their lives, real transformation comes from within. You have to want it and crave for it to happen.
We need to be productive to keep our country rolling. Let the fight for survival be a noble one.