By Mashonaland East Correspondent
SEX WORKERS in Marondera have accused soldiers of demanding free and unprotected sex from them.
The soldiers were deployed in parts of the small farming town following violent protests that rocked the area and some parts of the country mid-last month over an unpopular government decision to hike fuel prices by more than double.
Sex workers, who occupy a dilapidated block of flats in Dombotombo high density suburb, have said that some drunk soldiers who are operating from a local police camp were now in the habit of forcing them to engage in unpaid sex work with others not willing to wear protection.
“Last Friday night, a soldier forced his way into my room when I was with a male client. My client was chased away and the soldier said he wanted to have sex with me,” a sex worker who asked not to be named said weekend.
“I refused but he forced himself on me without using protection.”
Another sex worker said attempts to report the matter to the police have been in vain as some of her friends were turned away at the police station.
“We cannot report them to the police,” she said.
“My friends who were also raped by the soldiers were turned away when they went to make a report at Dombotombo police station.
“They were accused of stoning the police base during the demonstrations.”
She added, “We are now living in fear of these soldiers as they have now become a menace in our area. We are now even failing to get clients as men who used to visit us are now scared of coming here as some have been arrested on false charges of engaging in the violence and looting that took place here.”
Mashonaland East police spokesperson, Tendai Mwanza said they had not received any rape reports or complaints related to alleged police denial to file such reports from the sex workers.
Local NGOs have also raised alarm over alleged sexual violence perpetrated by members of the country’s security forces during a state crackdown on those suspected of taking part in the violent skirmishes.
“We have received very disturbing reports of a number of cases of women allegedly raped by members of security forces,” Dewa Mavhinga, southern Africa director for Human Rights Watch was recently quoted saying.
The government has distanced itself from criminal abuses allegedly committed by security forces while on duty.