Absurd rituals stalk sex work
By Duduzile Ruzive
Sandra Dlodlo (28), a sex worker plying her trade between Conaught street and second street in Bulawayo metropolitan province in Zimbabwe says there is an upsurge in cases of men who approach sex workers with absurd proposals such as demanding sexual fluids after the sexual encounter, a situation that is making sex workers uncomfortable.
Sandra says she started sex work seven years ago and the trend of men who approach them with unusual demands started recently but is on a sharp increase. Sandra believes these unusual demands are associated with money making rituals where traditional doctors demand body secretions or body parts from their clients which the use during the rituals.
“It is scary because as a sex worker I will not have any knowledge of how these secretions would be used. What if they use these secretions to harm me? The men who make such demands dangle huge sums of money and it is difficult to resist them,” says Sandra.
Sandra says some sex workers are now forced to engage the services of traditional healers of prophets from white garment churches to protect themselves from being affected by the rituals.
“Sex work is getting more and more difficult for women, most of who have the burden of caring for their children or relatives. We are desperate for money that is why we end up agreeing to perform some unusual acts. We have no protection from the police and as such we cannot make formal complaints against men who make these demands,” says Sandra.
Sandra says besides the rituals, some men still do not want to use condoms during sex. These men also dangle a lot of money to entice us to agree to unprotected sex.
“For me to work continuously, I need to be in good health. I must make sure that I have protected myself from sexually transmitted diseases. However, some men make this difficult. They offer a lot of money for unprotected sex. It is like they are not worried about contracting the diseases themselves. On several occasions I have had to undergo treatment, and it took a lot of precious time from me,” says Sandra.
Sandra says she sometimes uses the female condom to protect herself from reckless men. She says for the men not to notices that she is wearing a female condoms, she wears it for close to an hour before the encounter so that it would have adjusted the temperature to her own body. She says at times some men may notice it and turn violent.
“The main problem is that the men we deal with can easily turn violent. They know we are vulnerable and we do not often report the violence. If I get caught, I just have to beg for forgiveness. Oftentimes the men will be drunk and not hesitate to use violence,” says Sandra.
Sandra says there is need for support from law enforcement agents to create an environment where sex workers can operate without fear of being harmed by violent clients.