By Sukuoluhle Ndlovu
Traditional leaders have cried foul over rampant child prostitution which is increasing the chances of HIV and Aids spreading in the Masvingo district.
This follows the emergence of prostitution “hotspots” in places such as Jerera Growth Point and the Roy-Chiredzi highway.
In these ‘hotspots’ under-age commercial sex workers, commonly referred to as “zviTokwe-Mukosi” are preying on haulage truck drivers who will be transporting sugar from the Lowveld producer, Tongaat Hulett.
Speaking at a National Aids Council meeting held at Mushungwa Primary School recently, traditional leaders called for urgent measures to arrest a sharp increase in the number of under-age girls imbibing and having transactional sex.
Chief Nyakunhuwa (Mr Courage Mashavave) said the increase was alarming.
“Most of the young girls who get caught up in this mischief (commercial sex work) are usually those that come from child-headed families and it is now high time relatives and communities come together and help such families by providing constant supervision and guidance before the situation gets out of hand.
“We are saddened by a growing trend of young girls in some parts of Zaka, who are affectionately known as ‘zviTokwe Mukosi” who are openly engaging in prostitution and as community leaders, I think it’s high time we worked closely with the police to stop this vice,” said Chief Nyakunhuwa.
The chief cautioned that it was morally wrong for child-headed families to exist when members of the extended family and community were supposed to take over the nurturing of such families.
Chief Nyakunhuwa bemoaned the existence of numerous “hotspots” frequented by truck drivers who were being lured by under-age commercial sex workers.
“It is now disturbing that several hot spots where prostitution is rife have emerged in Zaka and these places are notorious for the presence of under-age commercial sex workers, some as young as 13 and no longer go to school, but will be busy competing for clients with their older counterparts particularly at places like Ndanga and Jerera along the highway,” he said.
He appealed to authorities to deploy police night patrols to control the situation.
This was also supported by Chief Nhema (Mr Rangarirai Bwawanda), who said the surge in child prostitution was sabotaging the progress made so far in the fight against HIV and Aids.
“Our district keeps on recording a high number of sexual abuse cases mostly where young females and women are being raped. It is now a challenge in our efforts to reduce the HIV and AIDS prevalence in Zaka,” said Chief Nhema.
He also urged parents to make sure they don’t live their children in the custody of people of questionable characters while warning young girls to dress properly and refrain from visiting beer drinking places, particularly at night to reduce chances of sexual abuse.