By Patricia Mashiri
Girls used to cook like their mothers but nowadays they drink like their fathers. Long back, beerhalls were usually occupied by men but in of late different age groups of women are seen overcrowding these places.
The sad part is that these young ladies are not in beerhalls voluntarily but circumstances force them to do so. The economic meltdown in the country is to blame for the depressing conditions as these girls have no strong backgrounds to fall back on.
The ladies are seen in beer halls, night clubs and streets half naked as a way of seducing and attracting men. Different men pick up the women, both old and young and sleep with them in exchange for rent, food and clothing.
Chenai Makamure (21) said she is involved in prostitution because she has a little sister to look after. She has no choice but to practice the oldest profession so that she and her siblings will survive in the harsh economic conditions of the country.
“I look after my little sister who is 10 years old. She is still in primary school. My clients give me money for rent, school fees and food. It is not by choice that I’m a prostitute but circumstances force me to do so. If I get sponsorship I would like to go back to school and finish off my studies because I dropped out when I was in form two when both my parents died,” Makamure said.
The young women seem oblivious of HIV/ AIDS and sexually transmitted diseases which are rampant nowadays.
Sibongile Kangwaru (19) said what is most important to her is having a penny in her pocket and that keeps her confident.
“I’m afraid of contacting sexually transmitted diseases but taking a closer look at our economy, I’m forced to indulge in prostitution so that I can look after myself because my father stopped to take care of me. When my mother died my father married another wife who is ruthless,” she said.
Gladys Phiri, an independent Sexual Reproductive Health Rights (SRHR) consultant said young girls are lacking sexual reproductive rights education.
“Our young ladies are lacking exposure and advice from the adults. There is need for them to be taught SRHR education so that they will know their rights. They have the right to use protection when having sex but they are abused by older men which then leads to HIV/AIDS spread.
“We realise that our children are getting a lot of information from the internet and they want to experience it. Let’s work together and help our kids achieve their goals and help them know their right so that they will not be victims of rape, HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancies as well as gender based violence, Phiri said.
The young ladies who are victims of rape, unwanted pregnancies, HIV/AIDS and gender based violence deserve another chance to go to school since the future belongs to them.