THERE is an increase in the number of married women engaging in sex work with some flocking Kadoma where the oldest profession is brisk business due to mining activities, an NGO has observed.

Speaking in Bulawayo this weekend at a round table meeting organised by Pan African Positive Women’s Coalition Zimbabwe (PAPWC ZIM) Elizabeth Mpofu (40) said these women were coming from mostly Harare and renting space at houses demarcated by curtains.

They, reportedly conduct sex work in these houses for days and leave for their homes with cash and groceries.

“I think this is caused by lazy men who don’t want to work for their families.

“At the end of the day these unsuspecting men are infected with sexually transmitted diseases like HIV,” she said.

Mpofu who is a sex worker said they encounter challenges with artisanal miners who refuse to pay for services and refuse to have protected sex.

Also, a group of men who sniff “mutoriro” are giving sex workers in Kadoma a torrid time by having marathon sex sessions which last for hours.

“All these challenges leave sex workers vulnerable to gender based violence (GBV) and at high risk of STI/HIV infections. We want to thank the sister clinic at Kadoma Hospital established by Centre for sexual health and HIV AIDS research (CeSHHAR),” he said.

“The clinic which attends to sex workers on a daily basis offers free cancer screening, post exposure prophylaxis (PEP), ART and sexually transmitted infection screening and treatment.”

Director of Voice of the Voiceless, Cathrine Madondo who work with sex workers agreed on the influx of married women venturing in sex work.

Some of the married women are not interested in money and lack of sex in their marriage are pushing them into sex work, she said.

“They take advantage of their husbands’ shifts to sneak out. We have a huge number of married women in sex work now. Our target group is sex workers and I noticed the need to engage this group in 2011 at Victoria Falls and Hwange truck stops,” said Madondo.

“Young girls from 15 years to 31 came forward with testimonies on various issues that pushed them into sex work. Most of them, including pregnant ones, would be abused by truck drivers.

“We have testimonies of sex workers being forced to be intimate or breast with animals like tortoise and dogs.

“I started engaging businesses in Vic Falls to employ some of them even as general hand. Some are now sewing tents for truckers as well as doing their laundry to earn an income.

“Should they be engaged for sex we encourage them to demand safe sex and payment for service. Now they have created a group to check on each other for safety.”

Madondo said they had negotiated with the local authorities to allocate a stand to some of the sex workers for security of their children; some of them are aging.

She said Ceshhar took some of the sex workers but a huge number is still in the streets.

She added that some of them who are intelligent and have capacity to continue academically are being re-integrated in the education system.