Analysis: FREDRICK CHITANGALA
HOUSE wives of Mahopo Township in Lusaka were up in arms early September when they became fed up with the behaviour of sex workers in the area, who, together with a local businessman, have turned a drinking place into a brothel. The sex workers, majority of whom are reportedly in their 40s, are wrecking homes, burying morals and devaluing sex, which God himself anointed for marriage. With just more than 5,000 residents, Mahopo community has been an illegal settlement since Independence until 2013.
This story of men in the area, including those from outside the vicinity, rushing for cheap sex at a famous local pub makes sad reading. Worse, school pupils are being trapped, with their education at risk of being curtailed as much as their parents’ marriages risk disintegrating. The Ministry of Local Government has promised to bring this sad development in an area that is only beginning to see social and physical development to an end. We can’t wait.
But is this the only place where such nauseating social and moral decay is taking place? No at all. This is typical of many lodges-cum-brothels that have mushroomed in high-density residential areas of most major towns, and strategically located near drinking places, for easy access to stray men. The Ministry of Tourism must carry out massive inspections and close down all lodges without registration.
The Tourism and Hospitality Act of 2015 was, inter alia, passed to regulate tourism enterprises and tourism-related services and enforce standards of operation and service but I doubt if what we are seeing in some lodges is part of this. Prostitution, though openly practised, is illegal in this Christian nation. The future of any community depends so much on what today’s leaders do for tomorrow’s generation but also on what moral foundation we lay for our children to build on tomorrow.
If it is confirmed, as reported by some concerned parents, that boys as young as 15 years old are abandoning school in an effort to raise money to pay for the cheap sex, then the owner of the pub must be given another charge of aiding child defilement on top of being involved in prostitution business. This man, a pimp of the worst kind, is evil and must be caged together with his women, who, obviously, have given up on life. There is no excuse for such public show of lack of morality even among the men who provide the needed market for the services. When will men show leadership and lead by example in their homes when they are spending the rest of their productive age pursuing the carnal flesh?
Families are under attack. Strong families make a strong nation. Families and what goes on inside them are very important to local, national and supranational governments because, however constituted, they are the microecology and microcosm in which emotional and material needs are met for the majority of people. Families are essential for social cohesion, the socialisation of children and individual well-being; they are the base from which children and adults can learn, work, and contribute to society. Our government therefore, as Samantha Callan puts it, has a vital interest in the welfare and practices of families under their purview and are concerned with how they are structured. What effects will these shameless people and their acts have on the family and on public health efforts to fight HIV?
Well, guess what? In 2017, there were 29 000 divorce cases in Zambia. And in 2018, even before the year ends, we have already recorded 28,101 divorces from January to August 2018. And the average age of couples seeking divorce always hovers between 20 and 45 years, the most prime time to raise a family. Has our generation really lost tradition and culture? What do we expect of the children of these divorced couples? They will definitely be victims of psychological and economic stress and this might affect their social development. We have embraced modernity dangerously too fast at the expense of our own identity. We have despised our own cultures in preference to the imported, exotic ones.
On HIV, Zambia has maintained a steady and positive trajectory on its quest towards zero new infections. Practices such as what was reported in Mahopo, together with what is going on in other places, have potential to reverse the progress the nation has made on the fight against HIV. In the last 2 decades, the prevalence rates of HIV have been on the downward trajectory, partly due to prevention efforts championed by the government and its cooperating partners and also as a result of the nationwide anti-retroviral therapy programs. However, should these anti-development tendencies be entertained, we risk falling back to where we started from. If thieves are arrested for having stolen, prostitutes and their clients, together with their pimps should be arrested too because, they too, are breaking the law.
Let us put family where it belongs. Let us throw all anti-family tendencies outside. Family is at the centre of God’s plan for the happiness and progress of His children. The Holy Bible teaches that God established families from the very beginning, starting with the marriage of Adam and Eve. What happens in Mahopo and all these lodges-cum-brothels is anti-Christ and anti-family. It is championed by the devil and his minions. It must be condemned and punished. The Zambia we want has strong family culture, it builds its young generation on sustainable moral lessons.
The author is Centre Director, Olympic Youth Development Centre OYDC.
Analysis: FREDRICK CHITANGALA