A 23-year-old pr*stitute has made shocking how she was forced into the trade after numerous s*xual abuse by a neighbour who disguised as a good Samaritan.
This is the sad story of a prostitute who was r*ped at 13 and forced into prostitution. The girl who is now 23 years from Zimbabwe has shared her touching story with H-metro
SIBONGILE (not her real name) , a s*x worker plying her trade in the streets of City of Kings and Queens says she has been raped several times since the age of 13 and has since lost count.
Fondly known as Scotchy in the world’s oldest profession, the now 23-year-old s*x worker chronicles how she was first raped at 13 by a neighbour in her rural Entepe village, Gwanda, resulting in her giving birth to her now 9-year-old child.
“I have been raped since I was 13 after my mother died of full blown AIDS in 2002. History has continued to repeat itself and I have been raped countless times ever since I got into prostitution,” says Scotchy.
A product of a child headed family following their mother’s death, the 23-year-old and her late sister were left to fend for themselves at a very tender age as relatives did not want to associate with them in fear of ‘contracting the virus’.
She recounts how they were stigmatised following their mother’s death in their rural home back then as a result some neighbour, a man, who disguised as a ‘Good Samaritan’ started giving them food.
“He would however come during the night and demand s*x from us. He started to sleep with us and this happened for more than a year. My sister fell sick and died; I was later to find out that she had also succumbed to HIV.
“After her death, I also realised that I was pregnant and so I decided to run away from my rural home before people started talking. We had already been labelled girls of loose morals whose mother had died of the ‘disease’ in the village”.
MOVING TO BULAWAYO
She was to move to Bulawayo where she got a job as a maid and worked for a month: “I worked for a month before my employer dismissed me saying that she could not continue staying with me since I had no birth certificate.
“I went into the streets and by now my tummy was bulging.”
While she loitered in the streets of City of Kings and Queens scavenging for food, Scotchy said she noticed girls who would stand in the streets almost naked at night, that is when she approached them and asked what business they were into.
“The girls were very welcoming and they told me that they earned a living through selling sex. I fast joined the profession and believe me it was not easy.
“For the first month I offered my services for free as I did not know how to negotiate and get my money before offering services. The majority of the men took advantage of the rookie in me and got away without paying.
“It was a struggle, being pregnant and fast learning to be a hard core s*x worker. I did s*x work until the pregnancy was full term and only went to the hospital when I was in labour.
“After giving birth, I told the nurses that I had nowhere to go with the child as I was a s*x worker of no fixed aboard. The hospital tried to link me to the social welfare but the officers who attended to me bluntly told me that they had no room for a s*x worker and her child,” adds Scotchy.
With nowhere to go after giving birth, Scotchy left the hospital and went into the streets before meeting a woman who said she was her sister from her rural home.
The woman took her and the child in her home before Scotchy left the baby with her and moved to Beitbridge in search of greener pastures but it turned out that the grass was not so green in the border town.
“I worked for the first week and tried very hard to lure the new clients in Beitbridge. In most cases I would offer unprotected s*x because no one had ever taught me to negotiate for safe s*x.
“I then contracted a sexual transmitted infection which was so severe such that I couldn’t work. I went back to Bulawayo to my sister who took me to the hospital. While I was in hospital, nurses took turns to look at me and gossiped about my rare STI condition”.
CeSHHAR COMES TO THE RESCUE
“I could not stand this and I ran away before I could be initiated on STI treatment. I went back to the streets but I couldn’t work because I was very sick. Some girls then told me about Centre for Sexual Health HIV and AIDS Research (CeSHHAR) and how it had a clinic which offered friendly services.
“I approached them and for the first time after losing my mother, I had a sense of belonging with the welcome that I was given at CeSHHAR. I got treatment for the infection and after completion; the girls at CESHHAR then sat me down and educated me about the dangers of having unprotected sex and how I can be safe in my line of trade,” adds Scotchy.
STARTING PRE-EXPOSURE PROPHYLAXIS (PrEP)
“I had an HIV test and I tested negative. After the test, they told me about PrEP and I felt this was the only way I could be protected against getting an HIV infection. I still thank God that after all that I have been through, I did not get infected.
“I started taking PrEP in 2014 and I’m now in a better position to negotiate for safe s*x. The job still has its challenges such that sometimes you still find men who don’t want to use protection and they even use force.”
The use of PrEP comes after the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommended it as a prevention choice for people at substantial risk of HIV infection as part of combination prevention approaches.
WHO defines PrEP as the use of an antiretroviral medication to prevent the acquisition of HIV infection by uninfected persons.
PrEP may either be taken orally, using an antiretroviral drug available for treatment of HIV infection (tenofovir plus emtricitabine), or topically as a vaginal gel containing tenofovir.
CONCOURT OUTLAWS PROSTITUTES ARREST EFFECT
After the several spates of abuse and attacks, Scotchy says the police stations are a no go area:
“Because we have no police protection and we work during the night, I have been raped several times in the dark and I now know it’s pointless to report the cases.
“I have tried to report the rape cases and one police officer told me that this was a result of the ConCourt ruling hence there was no way they could protect us.
“With all these challenges, PREP is the only ammunition that I have against HIV. Just last week I was attacked by a client who didn’t want to use a condom, he wanted to force himself on me and so he attacked me.”
ABOUT HER DAUGHTER
My child is growing up and she does not know that I’m a sex worker. She stays with my sister and I just go home to leave money for her upkeep.
I want the best for her and I don’t wish that she goes through any of the troubles that I have encountered in my life. Sometimes I breakdown and cry, I have been through so much and when I think of my child, my heart bleeds. How am I going to protect her so that history does not repeat its self when I die? I ask myself all those questions and I know God has the answers.
Scotchy’s life mirrors that of several other orphans who were left in child headed families under the harsh economic conditions.
While she thanks God for the protection against HIV infection, she feels the Government and its partners have forgotten the orphans who were left behind before the anti-retroviral treatment success.
“My sister died of HIV, and circumstances forced me onto the streets. The Government totally forgot about us and God knows where my breakthrough will come from.
“I’m leaving s*x work bit by bit, but remember behavioural change is a process. Harsh economic conditions also force me back into the streets as I try to fend for my child.”
The multifaceted Scotchy quickly dismissed this reporter after the wide ranging interview saying that the night could not go to waste although she was not in her hunting ground.
“I better go, I want see what the streets of Harare have to offer this evening before going back to Bulawayo tomorrow.”