MPs push legalisation of sex work

Zimbabwe Parliamentarians against HIV and AIDS says it is frustrated by the continued harassment of sex workers by both the police and potential clients and wants government to decriminalise commercial sex work.

“Our advocacy is that we want to decriminalise the issue. You know that there are arrests in Harare, Bulawayo and our cities. What we want is a certain approach to be applied which is not the one which makes these ladies appear as criminals,” Zipah Chairperson, Blessing Chebundo, said at a meeting with the Zimbabwe Network for Positive Women and Pan African Harare on Friday.

“We have taken it upon ourselves and the Zimbabwe Lawyers for Human Rights and the concerned parties to see how we can move forward together,” he added.

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.

Patients Ndlovu is a sex worker who was at the meeting who gave a testimony of her life. She said she was recently raped at gunpoint and was traumatised.

“It is my plea to the authorities to 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 proclaimed.

The Director of the Public Personalities against AIDS Trust, Tendai Westerhof, condemned criminalisation of sex workers saying the move made it difficult for them to access anti-retroviral 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 work.

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