GENDER FOCUS with EMELDA MWITWA
LAST week’s article titled ‘Criminalising buyers of sex’ has attracted interesting reactions from readers. The article was urging Zambia to take a leaf from the Nordic Model of curbing commercial sex. The model aims to end prostitution by criminalising buyers of sex, while decriminalising sex workers and providing them with support services that could also help them quit sex work.
Find readers’ views below:
Thank you for your educative column. I have no doubt many people are benefitting immensely from it.
In the same vein, allow me to comment on last week’s topic to do with penalising ‘buyers’ of sex, which, I must say, provoked a lot of curiosity, if not anxiety, among many people. My comment is in form of a simple question.
Since the objective of punishing men who sleep with prostitutes is to stem prostitution, would it not make more sense if the sellers were the first ones penalised? To me, that would create a situation where paid-for sex is not available and naturally decimate demand for the same.
I look forward to your answer.
I believe you are well. I read your article on January 4, 2018, as well as the one for January 18. Firstly, I would like to commend you for your concern and the passion that you have to help fight this unfortunate vice. Keep it up and may the good Lord grant you wisdom as you pursue your passion.
I personally have empathy for those women and I have been wondering why they would settle for that kind of lifestyle to earn a living.
I recently relocated to Livingstone from Lusaka, and one of the stories I got from workmates as well as friends is that prostitution is rampant here. Unfortunately, it is becoming acceptable in our society in that these girls and women parade the streets as early as 19:00 hours. Ever since I came here, I have been constantly warned to be wary of these girls, being a married man, as most husbands have gone astray in this town.
I could not agree more with the Swedish Model that you recommended for curbing commercial sex. I strongly feel men are the major drivers of this vice (sex business) because this being a demand and supply issue, there definitely would not be any supply if there was no demand.
In any business, one has to scan the environment for a ready market before attempting to sell, and commercial sex is no exception. Unfortunately, from my observation, the few times that I have been to some restaurants in Livingstone, unless I was just being paranoid or judgemental, there are women who look like they are on a mission to lure men. This may pose a great challenge to the Nordic Model because, legally speaking, members of the public should have free access to restaurants, lodges, hotels and clubs.
Unfortunately, some lodges operate as disguised brothels. A male colleague narrated to me how on a business trip, he tried to book a room at a named lodge around 22:00 hours. When he asked for the room rates, the lady at the reception asked whether he wanted to book the room for a ‘short time’ or the normal way. The prostitutes know about how these lodges operate and they take their clients there after meeting them at restaurants, clubs, or from the streets.
But if we are to put in place deterrent laws like the Nordic Model and expose men who buy sex, I believe it can be a step in ending this trade. However, I am sure that the sex workers can move from the streets to other places.
We need concerted efforts if we are to win this fight as a nation. I believe the prostitutes should also be prosecuted (alongside sex buyers) to instil a sense of responsibility considering the challenge that their business poses to the fight against HIV and AIDS.
And since prostitution is illegal in Zambia, we need ‘genuine’ law enforcers to do patrols on streets like Omelo Mumba in Lusaka and other places to apprehend sex workers, who are obviously big risk-takers.
What is disheartening is that married men, who could be major perpetrators of this vice, are putting the lives of their innocent family members at risk. The Church and organisations that deal with issues of women’s welfare should work hand in hand with law enforcers to counsel and help sex workers who claim vulnerability.
Zambia being a Christian nation, I believe the Church should be a major stakeholder in the fight against commercial sex because it borders on morality and one’s standing before God.
I would like to join the ‘silent movement’ of people who are trying to help our women to learn to believe in themselves and their ability to earn a decent living. As a Christian, I am ready to help them to get to know God. I am now based in Livingstone and would like you to connect me to such an organisation.
In reference to your article in the Daily Mail of January 18, 2018, I would like to share my views. Like in any illegal business, I feel it is more effective to prosecute both the seller and buyer of goods or services.
My apprehension with the Nordic Model is that it could drive the scourge underground. The sex workers will find some other means of contacting their clients, for example through media networks. For instance, I travelled overseas recently and in the night, a prostitute pushed a business card under the door, offering body massage and ‘private services’. The point is, women do not need to stand on the streets to sell sex.
However, I do agree when you state that these women are abused by their clients and other people.
For Zambia, maybe we need to make interventions through organisations like Tasintha, but on a larger scale.
Thank you Emelda for the wonderful but thought-provoking article.
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