Zimbabwe News and Internet Radio

Pupil by day, hooker by night

By Andile Tshuma

It is 11PM and she has attended to two men; three more and her work for the night will be done. But she has to make sure that her night shift ends before 2AM, if it doesn’t, then she is doomed. 

Child prostitution is becoming rampant in Zimbabwe mostly due to the economic crisis
Child prostitution is becoming rampant in Zimbabwe mostly due to the economic crisis

*Sinikiwe Ncube (15) (not her real name) is a pupil by day and a hooker by night. 

She is a Form 3 pupil at a school in Nketa, Bulawayo. Ironically, her friends call her Madzimai because her skirt is so long it conceals her knees. Sinikiwe is a sports captain and her teachers love her. At 15, she is more mature than most girls her age.

For the past 18 months, Sinikiwe has managed to conceal her profession under the guise of being part of a rhumba dance group.

Concealing her face under the rim of a trendy Nike cap, she tells her story:

“I don’t do it because we’re poor. We’re not poor; my parents are based in South Africa and we stay with my aunt. My mother sends lots of groceries and clothes but my aunt is in charge of the household and she decides who gets what.

“I can’t complain to my mother because I’m afraid I’ll be sent to stay with her. The man she lives with is not my father and we don’t have much of a relationship to talk of.”

Sinikiwe said she started off as a dancer before things got out of hand.

“I started going out at night with my friends after we’d formed a dance group. But one of the girls was bossy and I couldn’t keep up so I quit with time. However, I still go out about twice during the week and every Saturday and Sunday.

“I love being independent, being loved and making my own money. At home, they think I make the money from the dancing. They must never know I sell my body, my mother would kill me. But my extended family doesn’t really care; they just enjoy the groceries I buy with the money. The scolding is always less when I bring stuff home,” she said.

Her uncle, Sinikiwe said, works but never buys food.

“All he does is pay for satellite television, fuel his car and offer monetary help at church. We play happy family every Sunday, you wouldn’t believe the fighting that goes on during the week.”

Sinikiwe says she does not mind her “job” although she is scared of contracting HIV as some of her older and well-paying clients refuse to use protection.

“I know all about HIV/Aids but sometimes the money is just too good and I need it. I once refused this one guy unprotected sex and he didn’t seek my services for a whole two months so I avoid upsetting my clients.

“I like dealing with drunkards because I can easily take advantage of them. They give good tips and I sometimes just take the money myself. I’m not scared of pregnancy, I take depo-provera shots as a preventative measure,” she said.

Sinikiwe is just one of the numerous young girls involved in commercial sex work.

Child prostitution is becoming rampant in Zimbabwe mostly due to the unfriendly economic environment prevailing in the country.

Young girls also fall prey to “pimps” who promise them heaven on earth.

It is modern-day slavery as a significant number of these girls only get food and money to keep them marketable for more clients.

*Locardia Moyo (17), who says she came to Bulawayo from Plumtree after being promised a job as a domestic worker by a woman who had visited their village has literally become a sex slave.

The pimp gives her and other girls food and clothes and has trained them on how to apply make-up and walk with the kind of stride that would turn on a client.

They are paid according to the number of clients they bring to the “business” per week.

“Sometimes we get hired to dance at bridal showers and show women how to treat men. On fewer occasions, we go for bachelor’s parties and strip for money. The men love it,” said Locardia.

Young girls have varied reasons for doing commercial sex work with the most common being poverty and the need to meet certain financial obligations. The courts have shocking figures of girls that are sexually exploited by family members at home.

Sometimes, it is the media consumed by teenagers that result in their wayward behaviour.

Recently, a case was heard at the Western Commonage Courts in Bulawayo in which three men faced charges of having sexual intercourse with the same juvenile, in unrelated cases.

The presiding magistrate said in as much as the perpetrators deserved to be jailed, something must have also been wrong with the girl for her to be sleeping with all the men.

The girl claimed that the men were all her lovers and gave her money whenever she agreed to have sex with them.

Young girls are a hit among men.

A snap survey of night spots in the city revealed that men prefer to buy sex from younger sex workers who they believe are less likely to infect them with sexually transmitted infections.

“I can’t hire an old and wasted prostitute who will bring me a melting pot of infections. I prefer these young girls because I can do as I please with them. If you want to do it dry (without protection) you pump them with alcohol and dagga and then you do as you please. They’re not high maintenance and a one-night stand will not cause much harm to your wallet,” said one man who only identified himself as CJ.

Asked about the legal implications of bedding a minor and prostitution in general, he said: “What law are you asking about? These girls are already prostitutes; there’s no way they can be reformed. We find them in bars so we assume these are places for adults only.”

Another man only identified as Mandla who is a taxi driver said he likes high school girls because they are cheap and all he offers them is cool music and free rides.

“There’s so much free sex out here; why should I pay for hookers who’ll demand an arm and a leg when I can get the same service for close to nothing. I like high school girls because they get carried away by the music and a car that’s not even mine.

“They don’t demand much; just a dollar for lunch at school and for me to be at the school gate when she knocks off. I then detain her for an hour or so before I get back to work. I know she’s somebody’s daughter but that’s how life is like,” he said.

Despite all the challenges she faces in her secret life, Sinikiwe is still hopeful.

“I’m planning to sit for Ordinary Level exams in June. If I pass, I won’t sit for the November exams. I want to proceed to Advanced Level and consequently tertiary education. I don’t want to be a prostitute for the rest of my life.” The Chronicle

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