First Lady donates to Midlands sex workers
Freedom Mupanedemo Midlands Bureau
First Lady Auxillia Mnangagwa yesterday extended her philanthropic works and empowerment initiatives to commercial sex workers in Gweru where she donated inputs so they can embark on income generating farming projects.
She donated the agricultural inputs through the Gweru Women’s Aids Prevention Association (GWAPA), an organisation which deals with commercial sex workers in the Midlands capital.
GWAPA has a two-hectare piece of land which can be tilled to benefit its primary target, the commercial sex workers.
The First Lady, who was represented by Midlands Provincial Affairs and Devolution Minister Larry Mavima donated maize seed and fertiliser.
Minister Mavima said Government, through the District Development Fund, would provide a tractor to till the piece of land.
The commercial sex workers commended the First Lady for the timely donation and for empowering them to venture into agriculture.
A representative of the commercial sex workers in Gweru, who preferred not to be named, said the majority of them were on the streets canvassing for commercial sex because they did not have resources and funding to start some income generating projects.
“Most people do not understand that for us to end up on the streets is not by choice. Circumstances differ. Some of us were impregnated and dumped while we were still young.
“We need to feed these children. It’s not easy to come out in front of people and declare your profession as being a prostitute.
“ I want to thank Amai for this great initiative. We need more self-help projects like these and hopefully, we will retire from the profession,” she said.
Another commercial sex worker, Ms Rita Mausengwe said they were grateful that the First Lady had decided to empower them through her esteemed office.
“We are rarely recognised and are regarded as outcasts but we are very thankful for the gesture by our First Lady. It is not every day that we are remembered by such a very high office. We want to thank you Amai and may you continue to assist us.”
The sex workers said they were constantly getting harassed on the streets by police and appealed to Government to intervene.
“We also want to take this opportunity to reveal our harassment at the hands of law enforcement agents. We are pleading with you to help us in this regard. We also face some problems when we want to report our clients for abuse,” she said.
Minister Mavima also commended the initiative by the First Lady adding that Government would continue to empower sex workers through self help projects
“The First lady says you also need to be empowered despite your profession. We however, demand accountability in the distribution of these inputs and we want them to be properly utilised for farming not for you to resell.
“Those who are serious can come to our offices individually and show us where they want to plant and we will help with the inputs. You can also organise yourselves into groups and we will find small pieces of land where you can cultivate,” he said.
The Young Women for Empowerment Development (YWED) weighed-in by pledging to partner the sex workers through various initiatives. YWED Midlands provincial chairperson, Mrs Farai Sipani also commended the First Lady’s gesture saying her organisation would also chip in with some self help projects for prostitutes.
“We are saying women, come let’s work together. As women we must not continue to be objects and staying behind. The First Lady has passion for us.
“Let’s take advantage of the warm heart and this desire by our First Lady to see every woman being empowered,” she said.
Midlands Province has over 7 000 registered sex workers who are getting assistance from Government departments and other development partners like the Centre for Sexual Health HIV and Aids Research Zimbabwe.