By Robert Tapfumaneyi
SOME rogue male police officers in Epworth and the streets and bars of Harare, are demanding unprotected sex from sex workers as protection fee and for the ladies to avoid arrest.
Through their lobby group, Katswe Sistahood, the sex workers narrated how some sex-starved police officers were exploiting them by demanding free and unprotected sex thereby exposing the young women to HIV/AIDS, and other sexually transmitted infections.
“Sex workers in Epworth said sometimes there are exploited by the police who say if you do not want me to arrest you, have sex with me,” Talent Jumo, Katswe Sistahood director said during an event to mark World AIDS Day.
“So at the end of the day there are also being sexually exploited. In many cases the police officers do not use condoms as a basis to reduce your fine. So we are appealing to our policy makers to look at that.
“There is need for supportive laws and support to secure their (sex workers) safety and the well being of the key populations.”
Jumo said male police officers usually round-up sex workers loitering in the streets and bars before demanding sex from them as fines.
“To our policy makers, we continue to appeal to you to see that sex work is decriminalised in full in this country because sex work continues to be a criminal offence,” she said during the commemorations organised by the National Aids Council (NAC).”
She said as a result; “Many sex workers are forced to go underground. So they will not come out, they will not do it in the open.”
Jumo added sex workers in the country face unacceptable high levels of violence and other human rights violations.
According to statistics, at least 30% of sex workers across the country have filed a sexual complaint against a police officer, but only 20% of the cases are investigated by the Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP).
Sex work is illegal and morally condemned in Zimbabwe. While selling sex is not a crime, it is illegal to solicit for clients, live on the earnings of sex work and facilitate and procure sex work.