More often than not, I have come close to shed a tear while watching a movie or reading a novel, it never entered my mind that one day real life would bring me to do that.
It has taken me nearly 15 years as a reporter to find myself in this position shedding tears during an interview with commercial sex workers.
More often we have called them names and yet they are people, just like you and me.
Their paths in life are more or less similar in the reasons for turning to this ancient trade. Being a commercial sex worker is rarely a career choice, it comes from events unfolding, often starting from an early age. Most Zimbabwean sex workers are orphans, neglected by close relatives and chased away from places they call home.
“When both my parents passed on in a space of six months we found ourselves (with my two sisters) homeless and in the streets. As the eldest sister I was told by other women that the only way to fend for my sibling was to sell my body. At first I was scared but as the days went by I learnt the rules of the profession and became rough and tough with my clients,” said Yvonne Moyo ( not her real name).
Memory and Tsitsi also shared with me the challenges they face in their “profession”.
“Sometimes we are taken by rich men with lots of money and they demand that you do scaly things “like sucking snakes” they carry in their cars, probably for ritual purposes and if you refuse they will beat or kill you” said one commercial sex worker.
“At one point I fainted and was thrown of out of a moving vehicle after I refused to have sex with a toy sticks with beads and it looked like it was dripping blood” added Memory.
“The police are not helpful either as it is a crime to solicit for money or under the “criminal codification act.” She added, “Sometimes we are rounded up by the people (police) who are supposed to protect us and made to pay a fine, but if you don’t have the $20 fine to pay, you are asked to pay in kind. The policemen usually refuse to use a condom, it is rape I tell you.”
Commercial sex workers - our mothers, sisters and daughters after all.