By SAM PHIRI –
SEX work goes on unabated despite recent efforts by law-enforcement officers to crack down on the illicit activity, which is proving to be a booming business in Lusaka.
The sex workers actually want to be free to conduct their business, saying this is the way they earn a living.
Prostitutes are no longer found only in traditional guesthouses dotted around the sprawling townships of the capital city but also conduct their business in such places as market stalls at night.
This writer confirmed this, this week at Comesa and Soweto markets where in revealing attire, the sex workers could be seen sitting weary by the gate sides of such structures braving the night-cold as, like vultures, they waited patiently for clients while sipping-in chilled beer.
One of the prostitutes Mary Mbewe opened up and, without a whimper, urged the Government to legalise prostitution as that was the only job she enjoyed doing, the only one which could sustain her.
“I buy food and clothes and I pay rentals out of the same money from this work although I would not want my daughter to go through this kind of life,” Mary said.
By 16:00 hours everyday, many stalls, as well as nearly all rooms at a named guesthouse are fully booked with more than 70 per cent of the clientele being sex workers.
At the sight of a car beam through the gate gaps, energy seems to suddenly seize them as they would immediately take a livelier and appealing posture.
Although prostitution is illegal in Zambia, these girls and women from as young as 14 years old have devised an operation method that even law-enforcers have found tricky to address.
“It is difficult to for us to probe any place operating as a brothel as there is no law to quote when executing such an exercise,” Habeenzu Mulunda, Lusaka City Council (LCC) public relations manager admits.
These women, mainly Zambians and Zimbabweans, have turned these guest rooms into their ‘offices’ as some of them would have even paid for more than two weeks upfront for a room costing K80 per day.
This is in anticipation that they would have made more than the room charge by checking-out time the following day.
Another sex worker, Yvonne Musonda from Matero Township who mistook this reporter for a potential client, explained that a short time service had now gone up to K50 from the previous K30 when the rooms cost K60.
“But this is open for negotiations,” Yvonne said. “We can go as low as K20 for a short time service but in that case, my offer would not be just as good. We also measure against the cash.”
Yvonne said those who wanted to spend the whole night must be ready to foot an equivalent of two- night room bill, which is K160 with a flexible discount of K10.
Asked what she would do in an instance that she was not paid for the services, Yvonne said: “God alone can deal with you for doing that to me because I am here to earn a living for my five-year-old son.”
Yvonne, however, conducts her business with caution, especially in the wake of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like HIV/AIDS that might cut her life short, hence she carries a box of condoms daily.
In an event that she runs out of condoms, Yvonne would easily fetch for some more from her friends in other rooms.
She revealed that most rooms were occupied by sex workers and that even the security guards were aware of who occupied which room.
“If we don’t have a client we tell the guard on duty to send clients to our rooms and they also get a cut out of the deal,” Yvonne said.
Yvonne said she was into prostitution because of her five-year-old son and that she was ready to quit if only she could find a job that could give her slightly more than K1,000 per month.
Times of Zambia