By Lerato Ndlovu
As the world recognizes the sex workers day today, operations of their industry have been affected by the Covid-19 pandemic and their livelihoods threatened.
In Zimbabwe thigh vendors have not received enough education concerning Covid-19 and they now risk contracting sexually transmitted diseases and infections as contraceptives have been pegged at exorbitant prices beyond their reach.
In an interview with sex workers on conditions of anonymity they disclosed that it is now hard to get clients making it difficult for them to fend for their families.
“This lockdown has made it hard for us to survive, for we cannot be seen in the streets patrolling as we always do without being asked to go back home or run away from the police because we cannot afford to pay the charges once we are locked up,” one said.
“The lockdown has affected us a lot, we also want to survive and we also want the best for our children and respect their health too, we don’t want them to live the same life we are living they deserve better”.
“We are trying to do our job from home now that it seems as the best alternative to survive but the challenge we are facing now is of accessing protection the prices of purchasing condoms is beyond what we can afford as such we will be forced to risk our lives and those of our clients just because we need the money to fend for our children”.
Another chipped in saying, “Living conditions in this country are hard and we have no other alternatives on how to earn a living except through doing this job because it is fast paying and has flexible working conditions other than sending CVs to places that we know we can never get vacancies due to qualifications below those required by recruiters.”
In April UNAIDS and other partners across the globe stated that the essentiality of sex workers is not seen by the public but they also have rights that need to be protected.
“Whenever and wherever possible, sex workers are responsibly self-isolating in response to governments’ calls. However, when they are excluded from COVID-19 social protection responses, sex workers are faced with putting their safety, their health, and their lives at increased risk just to survive.”
Organisations such as CeSHHAR, NAC, and others are working hard on educating sex workers in the country on HIV related issues and assisting those already infected on how to get medication and also prevent the spread of the virus to their clients.
The International Sex Workers’ Day remembers the discrimination of sex workers and their often exploitative living and conditions of working, looking back to 1975 where more than 100 sex workers occupied the Saint Nizier Church in Lyon in order to get attention to their inhumane working standards.