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Sex at knifepoint

by Staff reporter
01 Dec 2016 at 16:23hrs | Views
SEX workers in the mining town of Zvishavane are living in fear of artisinal miners who are allegedly using machetes to demand unprotected free sex.

Popularly known as 'mabhemba', the makorokozas are said to have been unleashing terror in the mining town using machetes targeting sex workers, H-Metro reported.

According to some sex workers who access health care services through the Centre for Sexual Health HIV/AIDS Research (CESSHAR), many sex workers have been reportedly forced into sex by the machete wielding 'makorokozas'.

"Our greatest challenge in this area are the makozokozas who use machetes to demand unprotected sex.

"They use force to demand sex yet they don't want to pay.

"At first they come as potential clients but the moment you go behind closed doors you find out they have a machete they were hiding under their pants.

"Ukangoona bhemba rabuda mapinda mumba wotoziva kuti apa ndanyura. Uchati kurohwa ny.. mahara pedzezvo okubira mari yako imwe yaunenenge washanda," said one sex worker who identified herself as Sophia.

The sex workers revealed this in a meeting with National Aids Council (NAC) and journalists during a tour in the mining town ahead of the World Aids Day.

Another sex worker during the tense meeting accused the young sex workers of housing these machetes-wielding men who have become a major threat in Zvishavane.

"Vanhu vanogara nevakomana vema bhemba varimo muno, nyaya yemabhemba inotyisa iyi. Izvezvi ndichibva pano nhasi ndogona kudorobhwa nebhemba ndarevegwa.

"Vasikana vechidiki ndivo vamwe vacho vagere nevakomana vemabhemba.

"So many times those who are unfortunate to have an encounter with the machete-wielding makorokoza have been forced into unprotected sex which has resulted in sexually transmitted infections and HIV infections, " concurred another sex worker.

The sex workers argued that while they celebrated the Constitutional Court ruling which last year outlawed the arrest of sex workers accused for loitering for the purpose of prostitution, the machetes men have taken advantage of the absence of police officers at night to unleash terror on sex workers.

The sex workers, who are classified as a key population in HIV management, thanked CESSHAR adding that they really have been of help in the face of all these challenges where they find themselves in forced unprotected sex resulting in them getting infected.

"Dai isiri CESSHAR takawora nezvigwere. Siki dzose dzorapwa paclinic yavo uye vane utachiwana we HIV vanodopiwa mapiritsi ne CESSHAR.

"As you know there is so much stigma associated with sex work which has made it very difficult for us to walk into a public health facility to access medical care.

"Every time you have an STI, you are asked to bring your partner at their clinics before you can be treated. How do I bring a partner when I'm a sex worker who does not know most of the men she sleeps with," argued one sex worker plying her trade in Mandava Township.

The escalating machete-attacks have also forced night spots owners to tighten their security with patrons being searched of any weapons before entering a bar. Some owners have also placed notices that patrons should not be found in possession of weapons in bars.

Commenting on the issue of machetes wielding men in Zvishavane, NAC Provincial AIDS Coordinator for Midlands Province said they were working with the Victim Friendly Unit urging all the sex workers who have been violated to report cases through this police unit.

"Gender Based Violence is rampant due to mining activities and we are seized with the issues of abuse among this group.

"Sex workers are urged to report any cases of abuse through the Victim Friendly Unit so that we collectively curb cases of abuse especially among sex workers if we are to cut on new infections and ending AIDs," said Mambewu Shumba.

As the country commemorates World AIDS Day today under the theme 'Closing The Tap on New HIV Infections', HIV prevalence rate has remained high in sex workers and currently stands above 50 percent.

HIV activists have repeatedly called on the Government to seriously include sex workers and all key populations in HIV programming if the country is to achieve the ambitious UNAIDS targets of ending AIDS through the 90-90-90 targets.

According to the 90-90-90 target, 90 percent of the population should know their HIV status, 90 percent of those diagnosed with HIV should be initiated on ART thereby having 90 percent of those on ART having their viral load suppressed.

Source - hmetro