Prostitution in Zimbabwe
Prostitution in Zimbabwe, including solicitation, procuring, keeping a brothel, and being under 18 is illegal but thriving. The country's dire economic situation has forced many women into sex work. (Ncube 1989)
In the 1890s the South African War dispersed the sex trade there, and consequently created new problems in what was then Southern Rhodesia. Public pressure led to the passage of immorality legislation in 1900.
Prior to independence (1980) colonial vagrancy laws were used against sex workers. In 1983 there was a major effort to eliminate sex work in post independence Zimbabwe by rounding up hundreds of women and detaining them till they could prove they were not involved in the trade, otherwise they were sent to resettlement camps. A number of women's groups supported this as strengthening marriage.
As with many African countries, the onset of HIV/AIDS dramatically increased the interest in sex work. (Mugaisa 2001)
Law and politics
Prostitution is addressed in the CRIMINAL LAW (CODIFICATION AND REFORM) ACT 2004. PART III SEXUAL CRIMES AND CRIMES AGAINST MORALITY.
In section 61, prostitute and prostitution are defined as follows:
prostitute” means a male or female person who for money or reward—
(a) allows other persons to have anal or extra-marital sexual intercourse or engage in other sexual conduct with him or her; or (b) solicits other persons to have anal or extra-marital sexual intercourse or engage in other sexual conduct with him or her;and the word “prostitution” shall be construed accordingly;
other relevant sections are includes under Division E: Crimes relating to prostitution or the facilitation of sexual crimes
(1) In this section “publicly solicits” means— (a) solicits in a public place or any place to which the public or any section of the public have access; or (b) solicits by publication of the solicitation in any printed or electronic medium for reception by the public. (2) Any person who publicly solicits another person for the purposes of prostitution shall be guilty of soliciting and liable to a fine not exceeding level five or imprisonment for a periodnot exceeding six months or both.;
82 Living off or facilitating prostitution
Any person who— (a) keeps a brothel; or (b) demands from a prostitute any payment or reward in consideration of the person— (i) keeping, managing or assisting in the keeping of a brothel in which the prostitute is, or has been, living for immoral purposes; or (ii) having solicited other persons for immoral purposes on behalf of the prostitute; or (iii) having effected the prostitute’s entry into a brothel for the purpose of prostitution; or (iv) having brought or assisted in bringing the prostitute into Zimbabwe for immoral purposes; or (c) demands from a prostitute any payment or reward in consideration for any present or past immoral connection with the prostitute; shall be guilty of living off or facilitating prostitution and liable to a fine not exceeding levelseven or imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years or both.
Any person who procures any other person— (a) for the purposes of engaging in unlawful sexual conduct with another person or with persons generally, whether inside or outside Zimbabwe; or (b) to become a prostitute, whether inside or outside Zimbabwe; or (c) to leave Zimbabwe with the intent that the other person may become a prostitute; or (d) to leave his or her usual place of residence, not being a brothel, with the intent that he or she may become an inmate of or frequent a brothel elsewhere; shall be guilty of procuring and liable to a fine up to or exceeding level fourteen or— (i) in a case where the person procured is a young person, imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years, or both such fine and imprisonment; (ii) in any other case, imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years, or bothsuch fine and imprisonment.
87 Allowing child to become a prostitute Any parent or guardian who causes or allows his or her child under the age of eighteen years to associate with prostitutes or to be employed by any prostitute as a prostitute or to reside in a brothel shall be guilty of allowing a child to become a prostitute and liable to a fine up to orexceeding level fourteen or imprisonment for a period not exceeding ten years or both.
The police can also arrest any woman walking (in the streets) after 7pm.
In 2011 Thabita Khumalo, a MDC-T MP, proposed that prostitution in Zimbabwe be decriminalised. She stated that decriminalizing prostitution would address three important issues, corruption, HIV/Aids and women’s rights. Khumalo, who has suggested that the word 'prostitute' be changed to 'pleasure engineer' has continued her campaign despite being demoted in her party in 2012. She has claimed her position on the issue may have contributed to this. She is supported by the Zimbabwe Women’s Resource Centre and Network (ZWRCN), in addition to the workers themselves.
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