By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Shurugwi: Some free-spending illegal gold panners have reportedly contributed to marriage breakups in the Midlands mining district as they keeping luring desperate married women into sex relationships in exchange for money.
Among those less amused by the phenomenon are professional sex workers themselves who accuse their new competitors of causing a drop in the price of sex in the area as the married women accept any amounts offered to them for their services.
Speaking to NewZimbabwe.com during a National Aids Council (NAC) media tour in Shurugwi recently, Condom Champion Sithabile Ndlovu said poverty and the love of the United States dollar have forced some married women to dump morals.
“As condom distributors, married women are coming to us privately demanding condoms especially during the night as they have resorted to offering sexual services to amakorokoza (artisanal panners),” Ndlovu said.
“Poverty and hunger have made things worse here but the good thing is, the artisanal miners pay for sex services in United States dollars.
“And now there is war of words between the married women and sex workers who have resorted to alerting their (married women) husbands and many marriages have broken down as a result.
“But for us as Condom Champions, we don’t discriminate, we give everyone the condoms to use so that they don’t put themselves at risk.”
The Condom Champion said some married women who are still lucky not to have been caught yet have pleaded with them not to sell them out to their husbands.
Artisanal miner Kuda Kwashira said from the rate with which some married women were offering themselves for sex, he suspected some husbands could be allowing their wives to get into the trade.
“To be honest, poverty and hunger are wreaking havoc in many families and with the way we gold panners are making money, it seems married women and their husbands are in agreement to sell sex as a source of income to feed their families,” he said.
In efforts to fight the spread of HIV in the area, NAC has identified Condom Champions among sex workers and artisanal miners who are responsible for distributing condoms in hotspots such as beerhalls, bus stops, salons and vegetable markets.