“Our advocacy is that we want to decriminalise the issue. You know that there are arrests in Harare, Bulawayo and other cities. What we want is a certain approach to be applied which is not the one which makes these ladies appear as criminals”, confirmed Blessing Chebundo.
Zimbabwe of Parliamentarians against HIV and AIDS (ZIPAH) chairperson Chebundo said at the meeting with the Zimbabwe Network for Positive Women (ZNPW) and the Pan African Harare Thursday, “We have taken it upon ourselves and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the concerned part to see together how we can move forward.”
Because of the criminalisation of commercial sex work in the country reports of ladies of the night being abused by their potential clients are increasing.
The poor commercial sex worker who would have been abused has nowhere to report the case because doing so results in her arrest.
Patients Ndlovu is a sex worker who was at the meeting who gave a testimony of her life.
“I was recently kidnapped by a potential client who raped be at gun point. The man who had asked for my services before rapping me inserted his organ in my mouth and forced me to swallow his semen .After that he inserted the back of his knife into my anus.
“I then spent two weeks passing out bloody human waste and up to now I am still being traumatised. It is my plea to the authorities that they should do something to empower us. In my case I am illiterate and cannot read and write. I have six children who I am raising with proceeds coming from prostitution,” Patients shocked the delegates.
Director of the Public Personalities against AIDS Trust Tendai Westerhof, condemned criminalisation of sex workers saying the move discriminates the group from accessing AIDS treatment.
“It is disappointing that the country still criminalises sex work which from the testimony given by Patients is a profession. We are saying these people suffer a lot as a result of the discriminatory laws of the land. They are raped and cannot report such abuses. As a result they cannot access health services”, she said.
Recently MDC-T Bulawayo East House of Assembly Member, Thabitha Khumalo mobilised more than 300 sex workers in Bulawayo and made them sign a petition seeking to decriminalise their activities.
Khumalo said the discrimination of sex workers was hindering the group from accessing to health services.