Working in an industry notorious for rape, abuse and disease, retired sex workers in Zimbabwe have opened a prostitution consultancy catering to younger sex workers
As shocking as this might sound to many, one of the elderly women who runs the consultancy told Zimbabwe’s Daily News they were doing this to help young women protect themselves from being taken advantage of.
Lima Mankarankara (65) said they teach the new sex workers about the industry and how it works. They also teach them how to handle clients.
“Men take advantage of girls, so this is a way of making sure the girls stay safe and avoid unwanted babies while getting a little something for ourselves,” Mankarankara said.
She added that since some of the girls are still underage — with some as young as 12 — they do not have access to condoms which the consultancy provides.
“The women who come to us trust us with their lives so we have to show them we can be trusted. Even the way our office looks goes a long way in establishing the relationship we have with our clients,” she said.
One of the agency’s clients, Dalitso Mwale, said the women do not expect them to pay for their services. “We sometimes give them the money as a token of appreciation; they are grandmothers and have daughters who have ventured into the trade and they want to avoid teen pregnancies,” said Mwale.
High unemployment and the very real threat of starvation in Zimbabwe has left many young women with little choice but to resort to the oldest profession in the world. In Mwale’s case, the death of her parents led her to prostitution as a means of supporting her siblings. “Because we did not have a service like the one ana ambuya (Mankarankara and crew) are running, I fell pregnant.
“Thankfully I did not get the virus but this taught me to be careful all the time. Now because of the service, a lot of girls like me will be saved from the trauma of having an unwanted child and HIV,” she said.