Zimbabwe – Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights

Date: August 17, 2018
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Goromonzi has the highest the number of sex workers in Zimbabwe. Sex work is heavily influenced by the 3 major highways Harare-Nyamapanda, Harare-Shamva and Harare-Mutare which are frequently used by cross border trucks. This is further compounded by the fact that Goromonzi is peri-urban in nature. Sex workers were highly vulnerable to both GBV, STIs and HIV and that the plight of sex workers was worsened by the fact that responsible authorities were reluctant to help and intervene whenever sex workers were the victims of GBV.

The major motive of the project was to sensitize stakeholders on GBV violence against sex workers and its effects. Thus the project aimed at raising awareness on gender based violence against sex workers, prevention of GBV, STI and HIV, as well as creating and strengthening of referral pathways for treatment, counselling and other services.

The project was set out to sensitize key stakeholders on the dangers that sex workers face such as, forced unprotected sex, rape , physical, verbal and emotional violence, robbery and financial exploitation as well the challenges their face in reporting the cases and getting health services.

In line with the above the project also aimed at empowering sex workers with ways to preventing or minimising violence and abuse from their clients and the mainstream population. The sex workers were trained on their rights as enshrined in the constitution of Zimbabwe. Referral pathways, condom use, condom negotiation skills and child rights and maintenance and property rights

Notwithstanding the above the project also aimed to empower sex workers with life skills to create an environment that enables sex workers not to solely rely on sex work and to empower those who may want to quit with a life skill.

The project reached 72 direct beneficiaries. The Zimbabwe Government allocated $72 to support this project. The Donor was Ministry of Women’s Affairs, Gender and Economic Development.

Various monitoring and evaluation were used to monitor the impact of 50/50 campaigns. These include measuring the knowledge of the leaders and significant stakeholders on their knowledge about gender and gender violence issues. Use of GBV services before and after was also measured.

Some of the main challenges is that sex work is frowned upon both in the traditional culture and the dominant religion and this is often used to justify gender based violence against sex workers. Lack of proper health care and the walking distance to the nearest health facility for some of hot spots.

A total of 420 vulnerable women were empowered variously as a result of the action. Some of the sex workers have since acquired driver’s licences and some of them have established flea markets.

Tariro Jemedza says, “Being a sex worker is not easy as I was prone to so much abuse and Gender based violence. I am grateful for the workshops held in my district that educated me on the various money making projects. With the help of my relatives I have managed to leave prostitution and start on a new life.”

Men are becoming actively involved in issues to do with women’s rights and they are also participating towards gender equality and conflict resolution and gender based violence for example in a certain workshop a man actually demonstrated on how to use a female condom and highlighted the advantages and benefits and also the main aim of upholding women’s rights.

Great change has taken place at household level. Women now participate in decision making which involve family planning. In the house women can suggest when to have a child and discuss the best family planning method that is suitable for the family. Further consultations have also reviewed that sex workers now suggest the use of protection and charging the same fee as that for unprotected sex.

The Juru Mwanza ward community has been proactive and embracing change. The community has started empowerment programs where woman go to cooking club every Friday. Whatever is cooked members in the community buy. They have engaged in soap making projects, floor polish making, bread making and lotion making. These projects have empowered the woman as they get to share profits every fortnight. One Mrs Chigombe was grateful to the community for initiating such empowerment projects as she no longer asks for money to buy sanitary ware.

The good practices may also be maintained if not improved through continued engagement traditional, political and religious leaders. Clinics in the district should have continued counselling and medical support for sex workers. Influential sex workers in the district to be lured and availed capital to start on money generating projects. These projects to also employ other sex workers and encourage one another on other sources of income other than prostitution.

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