By Robert Tapfumaneyi
MACHEKE: A 33-year-old mother of two has turned into commercial sex work to raise her tuition fees, putting her life, marriage, and that of children at risk.
The woman, Charity*, said she had since turned to target truck drivers plying the Harare-Mutare highway in transit to neighbouring Mozambique in a highly involving task of raising US$500 per semester at the Women’s University in Africa (WUA) where she is studying.
Her wish is to start an income-generating project that can sustain her and her small family and quit sex work she says was her last and only option left.
Charity shared her depressing story in an interview with NewZimbabwe.com during a recent media tour to Mashonaland East province. The tour was organised by the National AIDS Council (NAC).
She said she currently owed her university nearly US$1 000 in unpaid fees and had doubts if she could enrol for her industrial attachment scheduled during the next semester.
“I am a student and I am also into sex work. I am also a mother, I have got a husband,” she told NewZimbabwe.com.
“The challenge that is there is the issue of university fees which I pay in United States dollars. The issue of tuition forced me into sex work because my unemployed husband does piece jobs in South Africa. He earns little money, and, therefore, can’t even afford to look after us or pay for my fees.
“At the moment, I need US$500 as tuition fees, and you can’t write examinations without clearing fees or proceed for industrial attachment. So, I take advantage of the fact that my husband is in South Africa and I go and wait along the Harare-Mutare highway and sell sex to drivers. I usually end my journey in Rusape or sometimes in Mutare.”
Charity added; “The programme I am doing is for four years, and right now it’s worse because I am supposed to go for attachment in August. I have not paid last semester’s fees and the situation has been made worse because of Covid-19.”
She added she was certain her husband was unaware of her shenanigans.
“My husband does not know that this is what I do. At times I plead with my parents to lie that they have paid my fees. However, even though I have not told my parents that I am into sex work, I am sure they now know.”
Commenting on the risk she faced as a commercial sex worker, Charity regretted, saying “one day it will end in tears”.
“Sex work is a risky business. One day I know I might even get caught by my husband and it will not end well. I really need to stop sex work and lead a normal life.
“I still love my husband and my family. Leaving my kids behind every day, locking them inside the house stresses me a lot. It’s not an easy job.”
The Macheke woman is even contemplating luring male university lecturers into having sex with her for her to sail through her programme.
“If the worse comes to worst, I will have to have sex with the lecturers for me to pass because zvakaoma.”
For a one-night sex work outing, Charity earns on average US$30 and she has been in the trade for the past two years.
*Charity was a name used to protect the identity of the woman.