Poverty, moral decadence take toll

YOUNG girls flood night spots in the mining town of Hwange for purposes of prostitution as poverty and moral decadence take their toll on most Zimbabwean societies.

RICHARD MUPONDE
SENIOR REPORTER

Girls as young as 14 years old frequent night spots dotted around the mining town sparking fierce competition with older sex workers as most men tend to settle for the younger “stock”.

The fierce competition often leads to some women dropping their charges to as low as $3 for their services.

The hunting ground is not only confined to Hwange town, but stretches to areas such as Cross Dete, about 50km away, right up to the resort town of Victoria Falls.

Sex workers in Victoria Falls have reliable contacts as they have diaries of all conferences that take place in the resort town and most of them offer their services to delegates attending the indabas.

In Victoria Falls, sex workers charge between $15 and $20 for a “short time” capitalising on the influx of delegates in the resort town.

However, when business is low they retreat to Hwange.

In this hot coal mining town, the epicentre of prostitution is a place called Lwendulu township popularly known as Number 1.

Here you find them in various ages, complexion and body shape — only your money speaks.

Hwange residents, especially women, despise Lwendulu because of the rampant prostitution that takes place there, even in broad daylight.

At night, sex workers flock to nightspots where competition for clients is fierce and often leads to brutal fights among the women.

Southern Eye established that most of the young sex workers toil for older prostitutes who decide which men they sleep with and for what fee.

Most of these young girls are orphans who fled poverty and ill-treatment by relatives or guardians and they were well received by older prostitutes who introduced them into the world of prostitution and the abuse only stops when they are able to stand on their own.

One of the sex workers, Regina Shoko (18), said she came to Hwange from Kamativi after both her parents passed away.
Her father used to work for the now defunct Kamitivi Tin Mine and he died in 2006 leaving her and her two siblings staying with their mother, who died in 2007.

They were then left in the custody of their paternal aunt who alleged ill-treated her and she decided to run away from home and head for Hwange.

“I came here when I was 14 years old in 2009 and I had nowhere to stay,” Shoko said.

“I was picked up by a certain woman from the rank where I had slept for two days.

“She said she wanted to help me and offered me work at her house as a maid. However, as time went by I realised that she was a prostitute and she brought men for me.

“We then started going to bars together where she would find men for me. I later ran away from her and stayed alone in Number 1.

“That’s when I joined other girls frequenting bars everyday.

“I don’t like the way I am living, but circumstances forced me into this situation,” Shoko said.

She said she had wanted to go to school like other children, but there was no one to pay her fees.

“I abhor my way of life, but there is nothing I can do. This is how I live my life now. If I don’t do that I will starve,” she said.

An older sex worker Ntombiyenkosi Ncube said she was forced into prostitution by poverty after divorcing her husband in 2007.

“After we divorced I went back home, but my family was unwelcoming.

“They treated me like an outcast so I decided to leave home in 2008 and come to Hwange,” Ncube said.

“I had nothing. I met a former schoolmate who was already in this business and I joined her.

“I didn’t think I would end up being a prostitute, but here I am. We make money, but it’s risky as some men are violent and also because of HIV and Aids. Our major customers are truck drivers who come to ferry coal from the mines.”

Some said they were not driven into prostitution by poverty, but found themselves steeped in it through frequenting night spots with peers.

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