‘It’s better to die of Aids than hunger’ (01-03-07)

- Tertiary students forced into prostitution to survive
BY HERBERT DAPI
A FAILING economy, together with the under-funding of the education sector and widespread unemployment, has forced scores of female tertiary-education students into the oldest profession.
A snap survey has found that st

udents from Masvingo State University, Masvingo teachers’ college and Masvingo polytechnic have resorted to prostitution for survival.
A visit to drinking spots revealed that most female patrons were students trying to make a living. They revealed that it is a common phenomenon at institutions all around the country.
According to Florence Hungwe (22) ,a banking and finance student who we met at Ritz nightclub, the practice has been caused by poverty and hunger.
Asked if they were aware of the risks, she said it was better to die of Aids than hunger; after all, in Zimbabwe it’s better to die quickly than to wait until Mugabe starves us to death, she said. Government grants buy only three loaves of bread. She has managed to pay fees and buy food, through prostitution.
Virginia Tongonya (22) from Masvingo teachers college, feels she has no other option but to sell sex because the canteens were privatised and there is little accommodation – a situation worsened by accommodating two universities at the one campus intended for teaching students.
Students are left with no option but to live with their boyfriends or to spend the whole night in the pub.
Their clients vary from top politicians to anybody who can afford to pay around $40 000 per night, said Sithembile Nyoni, from the polytechnic. They prefer tourists, who they can charge in foreign currency.
On Fridays, one can see cars lining up at institutions – it’s reminiscent of a fuel queue but instead they are there to pick up girls.
The new minister of finance, Simon Mumbengegwi, allegedly owns one of the shebeens in Rujeko high density, which is doing very well according to students because that is where politicians prefer to drink and pick them up.

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