By Alois Vinga
EX-Cabinet Minister, Nyasha Chikwinya says it’s high time considerations are made to legalise sex work in Zimbabwe to find a lasting solution to the silent problems embedded in the profession.
Global lobby group, UNAIDS places Zimbabwe among the 103 countries worldwide in which sex work remains criminalised, leaving sex workers unprotected by the law and exposed to a range of human rights violations.
The organ has it on record that studies show that sex workers often face violence from the police, clients and partners, increasing their risk of acquiring HIV. The prevalence of HIV among sex workers in Zimbabwe is exceptionally high, estimated at 42,2%.
Apart from such challenges, sex workers also face stigma and lack of privacy from health-care workers.
Speaking during an Economic Justice Women Project (EJWP) stakeholder’s engagement meeting Wednesday attended by informal sector workers and legislators from Goromonzi and Kadoma, Ex-Cabinet Minister, Nyasha Chikwinya implored policymakers to treat the issues of sex workers as a matter of urgency.
“Our country has come a long way with this matter and what I believe is that if we fail to solve a problem the way we wish there should come a time when we accept what is on the ground.
“Sex work is reality. It is time a push for its legalization commenced. That way we will be able to protect workers in this category from the rampant abuses they are facing. Many here would also admit that these sex workers are playing a very pivotal role in our society by saving several marriages from collapse.
“Even if we reach that stage there will still be no problem at all because these sex workers are involved in a trade of selling a product which can still be taken back home in its original state,” she said.
Goromonzi West legislator, Beatrice Nyamupinga also supported the call for legalization underscoring that it is the only avenue which can plug problems associated with the secrecy around the sex industry.
Added Nyamupinga: “Continued reluctance to recognize this suppressed but thriving sector continues to cause a lot of problems. In my Constituency at the ShowGround Area I have about four wards with some 300 people and among them are some sex workers who are contributing meaningfully towards the Constituency’s development.
“So I believe it is time serious debate is ignited on how this trade can be legalized.”
The EJWP executive director Margaret Mutsamvi also took the opportunity to lobby lawmakers in attendance to seriously address the challenges bedevilling women in the informal sector.