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The sex worker in a developing town of a developing nation
Bhekumusa Moyo
April 19, 2011

Beitbridge is characterized by a hive of activity and business ranging from formal to informal, legal to illegal. Life is fast and cost of living is double that of other towns like Harare and Bulawayo. One is either robbing or is being robbed. One is either bribing or is being bribed. One is either selling sex or someone is buying.

I followed closely the life of Chido who has been in the sex industry for 23 years. This sounds like a joke. She is being called by her first name even by young boys of her son-s age. Her life has been revolving around being fucked and sucking from the sex hungry man. I met her at Kalahari Sports Bar. With all these years in the industry, one would ask of how old she is now. She is 39 though she looks younger because of the skin peeling creams.

She came into the business not by choice. Like many young women who end up hooked into the evil net of the world-s oldest profession, she was on her way to South Africa. After failing a couple of time to get to the green pasture, she had nothing to do. Narrating her ordeal, she quickly demanded beer as we talked. On her first quest to cross the border via the Vembe crossing spot which many border jumpers use, she met the horror of her life which transformed her to what she is today. She was raped in exchange of favors to cross the river. None of the rapists managed to get her across the river until one Mpisi (a man who escorts border jumpers across the Limpopo River), took her to Baghdad Squatter Camp in Beitbridge. Baghdad was the oldest squatter by then near Beitbridge long distance bus terminus back then. It was destroyed during Muramatvsina invasions as it was a breeding ground for all crime and ill activity.

The man introduced her to Mai Tinashe who was the aunt of the prostitutes in the area. As beautiful as she is or was, she was a treasured property. That is how she came to surrender her life to the twin devices of sex and booze risking her life to the HIV. Now she doesn-t even give a damn.

At 18, she had her first born child with a Zambian truck driver. The young man is now 21 years and lives a story that needs a separate column. A year later the affair with the Zambian ended as he changed route and all contact was lost. There was no one to support her. The option that was always there for her was the obvious. She continued as a way of supporting her child.

The boy is growing and now 21. The mother remains earning her income from reeling under different sizes of men and enduring the penetration of all sizes and shapes of shafts. Her life is surrendered to the grave. She speaks of her clients as fools. On the subject of HIV, she shows no remorse. Straight faced she told me to fuck off as anytime anyone can die. From her analysis, death is death.

During our discussion, a couple of things came up. The subject of making prostitution a legal profession was top. This, she says, will make all players safe, the client and the service provider. Moral decadence is caused by parents who do not love their children, ignoring them and exposing them to conditions that disturb their minds. This causes the behavior she has towards life, she says.

It was around 12 Midnight. She looked me in the eye and said "How about us tonight? 50 grand only ". I said "no". She insisted her request. I told her that I was only 23, two years older than her son. Asked of how this felt like. She said all was shit, pussy is pussy, whether from a granny or school girl and she accepts any stick that comes her way with a price. I gave her 30 grand and we parted ways.

Beitbridge is at risk because of the HIV. MSF says that there are almost 8000 prostitutes in the border town. Imagine the ratio against the actual population. There are few good ladies to marry in the town. A lot stands to be done before the scourge wipes of the town.

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