Male commercial sex workers in Zimbabwe have called on the government to legitimize their operations.
This came to light at a stakeholders workshop that was held Holiday Inn in the capital yesterday.
The male sex workers, who were part of other key populations that also include people living with albinism and other groups said they their needs as marginalised groups must be addressed in order to end the new HIV infections by 2030.
Members from the key populations community revealed shocking issues that are happening in our everyday lives as they said it is very hard to address these issues because they are not acceptable in the society.
The key population said they should be have access to services as well as reliable information for them to be able to achieve their desired goals by 2030.
In an interview on the sidelines of the stakeholders workshop, a member of the Zimbabwe Rainbow community expressed concern over the society’s of male sex workers.
“They have a fancy name they call us that is ‘Ben10’. People should address us as male sex workers because we are earning through this and it should be acceptable. In parliament they say they cannot deal with our problems but its funny because some of those government officials are the ones who come after us at night and pay for sex,” said Trymore Makore (pseudo name).
“Services should be available and accessible at all times. Children are indulging in sexual activities at early stages because of change of times. These days there is internet were they can access to pornography material with social media included. Some children are exposed by their parents because of poverty. Some are exposed due to peer pressure because sex is becoming a topical issue in schools because of hormones that are reacting fast due to foods we are eating,” Brenda Kagura (pseudo name), a sex worker said.
“Government should recognize and put policies to legalize male sex workers because believe it or not , the policy makers are also involved in this business,” the sex worker said.
Addressing a workshop at Holiday Inn earlier today, the National coordinator for the Zimbabwe AIDS Network Taurayi Nyandoro stressed that as long as the nation is not ready to deal with the key populations, then we are not ready to deal with HIV.
“There is need for the government to deal with these issues head on. Key populations must access services too because they are humans who are entitled to human rights. Men who are sleeping with men constitute 29% of the population that is spreading new infections yet the society is not ready to deal with that. Already they do not accept female sex workers, the government wants to decriminalize them of which they are the careers of HIV. Lets give them access to information and services so that they can protect themselves and others and together we can achieve the 90,90,90s goal by 2030,” Nyandoro said.
Speaking at the same platform, Albino Trust of Zimbabwe spokesperson Bruce Nyoni highlighted that people living with albinism continue to face discrimination in different communities they live in.
“Parliamentarians think that albinos only need lotions and sunscreen to survive. We are also sexual active. There is need for access to information on sexual reproductive and other services at community level. People with disabilities also need this information,” said Nyoni.
“There is need for us to push for young people to get into parliament. We young people understand the times we are living in. This transgender issue is normal. Its natural. We cant change who we are,” said Chihera who is a transgender person.