Sex workers bemoan COVID-19 effects

Sex workers bemoan COVID-19 effects

By Daniel Itai, Harare, Zimbabwe

The current lockdown regulations that the country has since imposed are seemingly having a huge toil on many sex workers in the country.

Nancy Chabuda, Programs Coordinator of Katswe Sistahood said the current lockdown regulations were having a severe impact on the wellbeing of sex workers.

“Sex workers usually survive on money from hand to mouth so with the lockdown they are not working because sex work is work. They are not getting clients, and when they do they are charging less because their clients are also on lockdown so they are not getting money to pay for sex workers’ services hence, they are not getting money to cater for their needs and for feeding their families.

As Katswe, we have been having online meetings with sex workers trying to give them information about the Coronavirus and how they should protect themselves from the virus if they get clients. We have also been giving them online referrals to clinics for contraception, HIV testing and counselling, STI screening and treatment among others.

However, there are many challenges linked to online platforms like shortages of money for data, electricity challenges and also some sex workers not having cell phones that can go online or that have WhatsApp.

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Moreover, moving around to access the various health care services they need has been quite problematic due to the lockdown and we have received cases of unsafe abortions and unplanned pregnancies as they have not managed to access the services to protect themselves,” said the programs coordinator.

Talent Moyo, a local sociologist, further added that there was urgent need for government to recognize sex work as a profession.

“The absence of an existing comprehensive social security system meant to buffer them from disasters such as COVID-19 has really affected them. Additionally, we must acknowledge sex work as a profession in order to help them,” said Moyo.

Most of the country’s economists have warned that there is urgent need for the government to open up the country’s entire economy so as to avoid severe socioeconomic repercussions.