Underaged girls engaging in prostitution in Epworth and Hwange tell a heartbreaking story of Zimbabwe’s socio-economic struggle which have been further deepened by the unpremeditated Covid 19 induced lockdown that has left many parents/guardians who live hand to mouth struggling to provide for them.
The number of young girls who have joined the older profession in 2020-21 have upscaled due to the economic hardships presented by the emergency of Covid 19
More than 200 young girls in Epworth have joined/engaged into child prostitution in order to bring food on their table. Other young girls participating in the oldest profession are orphans and less privileged.
Speaking during a National AIDS Council sponsored HIV/AIDS media tour of Epworth “pa Booster”, Springs of Life Zimbabwe coordinator Precious Msindo said young girls of 13 to 15 years engaging in prostitution has become rampant in Epworth and other marginalized areas around the country
I was so depressed reading an article in the local paper that teenage girls in Hwange have been forced to engage in commercial sex work with cross border truck drivers as their parents are failing to provide them with at least a single meal a day.
Commenting on the development councilor in Hwange, Steve Chisose confirmed the development and indicated that the situation had reached unprecedented levels that requires strong willed individuals or the whole government to rein in, in what he described as a “generational genocide”
“Long distance trucks coming in to ferry coal are using open spaces in residential areas luring young girls into prostitution” Chisose said
Another Hwange resident, Silibaziso Mapala blamed the government for the rise in teenage prostitution.
“People that survive in the informal sector for survival have been ordered to stay home with no plan to bail them out. Our youths are bearing the brunt of this lockdown and sadly will do anything to survive” Mapala said
According to the statistics, National AIDS Council gathered, 70% of prostitution in Zimbabwe are of the young girls under the age of 16 years.
What is really sad, is that the government has neither proffered any solutions to address the rot nor framework to redress the situation in such circumstances.
The situation has been rampant in almost 80% of the country.
This only happens when you have a department of social welfare in a country that fails to identify real problems and goes on a goose chase on partisan social services.
I would like to challenge the department of Social Welfare Director to take immediate action and put these minor children into protected homes where they will be able to get government sponsored welfare, and not prostitute for a living.
I challenge the department of social services to come forward if they really stand to protect the vulnerable children and other challenged people of the society, the depart has become only pro-rich leaving the vulnerable on the edge of economic margins.
If you are being paid by the government to protect vulnerable children and people prove to us that your department is actually real. Your department seems to focus on protecting the rich and not the poor. It’s very sad indeed.
It’s time we join hands with local authorities and other stakeholders to help curb child prostitution and assist child headed families
Edith Chibhamu is a business woman, human rights activist and aspiring president for Zimbabwe Democratic and Economic Freedom Party (ZDEFP)