COVID 19 Negatively Impacts Sex Workers.
COVID-19 has not only affected big businesses, health sector or schools alone, women in sex working business have also been negatively impacted by regulations such as social distancing and lockdowns. CORAH spoke to some sex workers at Goromonzi district in Juru Growth Point popularly known as paBhora where the pandemic has changed lives of sex workers from bad to worse over the past months.
COVID 19 brought so many challenges to the profession of prostitution in this particular area. Sex workers in Juru growth point frequent bars and nightclubs to attract clients however with lockdowns this came to halt as bars and night spots were closed. The situation got extreme for them when they would get arrested for loitering in closed public spaces as this was against lockdown regulations.
“initially everyone would be expected to vacate the township at 3:30pm.We had to stay home doing nothing we survived on selling empty bottles that we had stolen from the bar until they got finished” said Melody Chari a sex worker
The first 21 days of lockdown were tough for the sex workers. They had to negotiate with their landlords. Some of the landlords understood them but in some instances they had to sell their possessions such as television sets, radios and pots just to pay for rent and try make ends meet.
The closing down of bars made them poor to the extent that they could not afford many things including food and even sanitary to use during their monthly periods.
“We now use pieces of cloths that we throw into blair toilets since we can’t afford to buy pas or cotton wool” said Lucia Munemo another sex worker.
Before COVID-19 the sex workers revealed that they would make 15 – 20 USD per day , that has since changed. “We could survive but in the current situation it’s very difficult to make 2USD.Those who pay (mhene) can give you even a dollar for you to food on the table” said Zvisinei Chando.
The sex workers just like everyone else in the country have been facing access to water challenges. Most of them can not raise money to pay for water resulting in water supply being cut off. The community is now forced to walk about 5km to fetch water at public water points.
The sex workers have pleaded with government and civil society organizations to offer them self empowerment projects to help sustain their lives.