CHIREDZI - Local commercial sex workers have briefed various parliamentary portfolio committees and claimed that local nurses and doctors were carrying out illegal abortions many of them on child sex workers driven into the vice by poverty.
They also accused the police of mishandling cases to do with sex work, saying women in the illegal trade were being victimised.
The committees that visited Chiredzi on a fact-finding mission through a consultative forum on sexual and reproductive health were Health; Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs as well as Women Affairs.
This was after Marko Shoko, a resident and social activist, petitioned Parliament on the upsurge in child prostitution in Chiredzi.
The committees that came as a team comprised the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Health, Ruth Labode, Portfolio Committee on Justice, Legal and Parliamentary Affairs chairperson Misheck Mataranyika, acting chairperson of Women Affairs Portfolio Committee, Brian Dube, and Bulawayo proportional representation Member of Parliament (MP) Jasmine Toffa.
The meeting was attended by many people including sex workers, the police’s Victim Friendly Unit, representatives from Right Here Right Now as well as several civic groups and government departments.
Paidamoyo Manika, a youthful sex worker, said some young girls were driven into the trade by the conduct of their mothers who bring in boyfriends in their presence while others are pushed in by poverty and orphanage.
“Some of us saw the experiences of our mothers making what we thought was easy money by selling their bodies. We then took the business to be lucrative. Others join after being kicked out by their mothers who consider them old enough to fend for themselves as their presence at home is considered a distraction against their sex work," said Manika.
Rosemary Chiguvi said other sex workers joined the trade due to orphanage or after being left by their parents who migrated to South Africa to look for work.
"Some of the children we meet in this work are bread winners. They were left by their parents who are mainly employed at the small-holder sugarcane plots where they earn a pittance. Many of them left their jobs for South Africa where they hoped to get better paying jobs," said Chiguvi.
She also said a lot of illegal abortions were taking place, with nurses and doctors being involved.
“Although we don’t know the number of pregnancies terminated and the number of those who died in the process, we admit that we use unorthodox abortion methods like shoving fresh chilies up our private parts or using hooked wires, but nurses from Chiredzi General Hospital and doctors from private institutions have carried out most of the abortions in this town,” she said.