Gender Focus with EMELDA MWITWA
I WAS reading your article on Alangizi (traditional counsellors) and I am proud to say that you did justice to the subject as it was a blend of objectivity and personal opinion.
I am a member of the Chawama Evangelical Church and am part of a team that has been spreading the gospel around Chawama and Kuku townships. We have been going to people’s homes to share the word of God and during our ministry we came across issues of serious moral decay in the area which I would like to share with you.
There is an illegal brothel behind Tai City (a bar) which is posing a threat to family values and the morality of children who live in the area. The brothel, disguised as a guest house, gained prominence during the period of economic distress in Zimbabwe when women from that country were coming into Zambia in large numbers to sell their wares and buy commodities for re-sale in their country. It was during that time that some women started selling sex, and over the years, the place has been operating as an undercover brothel. Now we have our own (Zambian) women and girls going to this brothel to sell sex. The place has a bar and cinema but behind it, are rooms which are normally patronised by foreign women and Zambians too. My concern is that young girls, some of them school-going, have become partakers in sexual immorality at the disguised guesthouse located in the heart of Chawama township. The place is situated near households, the reason why girls from Chawama and Kuku find it convenient to sneak into the nightclub and the rooms behind the bar where they are lured by sugar daddies.
During our outreach programmes in the area, this is one major concern that residents have been expressing. The women say that their husbands are becoming promiscuous because of the brothel in the vicinity. Men normally go there after work to relax over a beer, but some end up spending a night at the brothel. Some women complained that the misbehaviour of their husbands has given rise to incidences of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in the community. Others say they have actually been treated for STIs a number of times.
But when you talk to the men, they equally complain about the negative impact of goings-on at the guesthouse on their families. Some say when they go for work, their wives sneak in there during the day to make some money. Others say they have had misunderstandings with their wives arising from misconduct at the nightclub and the adjoining guesthouse.
As an evangelism team and community members, we are worried about the negative impact of these activities on the family. Obviously the area around the ‘brothel’ is not an ideal place to raise children.
A family is an important building block in society which anchors our moral fibre. When families disintegrate, the foundation of society is shaken. We therefore want the relevant authorities and community stakeholders to do something to protect families in Chawama from the invasion by commercial sex workers and their clients. To the guesthouse patrons, the lifestyle seems normal because of the traditional belief that a man’s infidelity has no harm on marriage. We need to act fast to protect the ‘good nuts’ from being corrupted by the bad ones. This is the reason why I wrote to you.
Concerned resident & Chawana Evangelical Church member.
Thanks for reading Gender Focus and sharing with me issues that are threatening familial unity in Chawama. I hope the powers that be will read your letter and do something about the disguised brothel in the hood.
You have actually touched on an issue that I tackled not so long along, but in a different community – Emmasdale- another of Lusaka’s townships. From what I gather, the problem of nightclubs running secret brothels is becoming common in Lusaka. A number of them have built rooms in their backyards where the illicit sex business takes place. Like on Floridah Street in Emmasdale, intoxicated patrons, in the company of women, find it convenient to spend nights at the watering holes. Sex workers actually target these secret brothels to sell their services. The sad part about it is that children, especially girls, under the age 18, who by law shouldn’t have access to bars nor be allowed to buy alcohol, are admitted to these facilities.
It’s quite a big problem not only in Chawama but many parts of the country. President Lungu is actually worried about the levels of alcohol abuse among children he wants parents, teachers and religious leaders to help stop the moral decay.
In his state of nation address to Parliament on March 17, 2017, Mr Lungu said:
“Let me also urge all parents, teachers and religious leaders to take a lead in inculcating high standards of morals and ethical values in our people, especially the young, starting from our families, communities, schools and places of worship.
“Parents, teachers and religious leaders have been singled out because of their role in the daily lives of our children and youths. If our children are not at home, they must be in school or at least at church. Unfortunately, what prevails in our society is that our children patronise social places such as bars and cinemas, which don’t instill good moral values. They sometimes spend time indulging in underage drinking and watching pornographic movies on social media, which are both prohibited by the Zambian laws,” President Lungu said.
What I am trying to demonstrate is that what is happening in Chawama and Kuku townships is a known problem in Zambia, especially in the capital, Lusaka.
The onus is on local authorities to collaborate with law enforcers and monitor nightclubs and bars to curb the illicit sex business and underage patronage of these facilities.
They need to have informers to give them tips of goings-on around nightclubs.
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