A pro-women empowerment movement recently told parliamentarians that it encountered over 400 girls in Harare who have been turned to sex work as the economy continues to lead many into poverty.
The movement, known as Katswe Sistahood showed a documentary to parliamentarians of girls mainly from Hopley, with some aged below 14 years engaging in sexual activities for as much as 50 cents. One of the children said that she joined the oldest profession in order t be able to pay rent, get food and educate her younger sister.
Individuals aged 15 or younger in Zimbabwe are not legally able to consent to sexual activity, and such activity may result in prosecution for statutory rape or the equivalent local law.
It emerged during the meeting that most of the girls that turn into sex workers are orphans who have no guardians to look after them and one of the parliamentarians, James Maridadi related the issue of not having guardians to foreign descent.
“When you look at vanhu veku Caledonia (people from Caledonia), they come from Tafara, Mabvuku… they are of foreign descent so they don’t have extended families,” said Maridadi.
Extended families have made it possible for orphans to be well looked after in Zimbabwe as relatives take care of the surviving children. Maridadi also said that it was the role of the President to ensure that young children get basic needs such as food and education.
“I think the President has two duties to up hold the constitution and keep the national interest” said Maridadi.
Section 75 of the Constitution says every citizen and permanent resident of Zimbabwe has a right to a basic State-funded education, including adult basic education.
The children in the documentary stated that they could not continue with education since they did not have money to continue with learning at school. Although Katswe Sistahood reported that over 400 children were involved in sex work, no statistics have been made to get the actual number of children in the profession. The ministry representatives who were present at the meeting expressed the need for statistics so that the government can put more put measures to the looming problem.