By Steven Mruma.
Prostitution is generally defined as performing, offering, or agreeing to perform a sexual act for any money, property, token, object, article, or anything of value. 1 Prostitution of children; therefore, is defined as the sexual exploitation of a child for remuneration in cash or in-kind, usually but not always organized by an intermediary such as a procurer, family member, pimp, or madame.
Hundreds of thousands of children have been lured into prostitution. 2 Though the prostitution of female children is more widely publicized, male children are also susceptible to the same dangers as females in this world of exploitation.
Dar es Salaam does not sleep. Night activities are varied and real. As petty traders line up the streets with fresh and imperishable supplies, promiscuity thrives on the other side of the cosmopolitan capital.
Here you can see ten distinctive styles of engaging in commercial sex business. Different groups but with a similar mission (money and in few cases desires) keep the industry vibrant.
Enduring efforts by the Tanzania Commission for Aids (TACAIDS) and other civil organizations to stamp out new HIV infections seem to fall on deaf ears as the daring ‘enterprise’ continues to draw customers from different walks of life.
Dialogue with the ladies at the middle of this business is not an easy accomplishment either. Every minute has to be paid for, the ladies insist, “time is money”. Offer of drinks and bites could appease them to share information about ‘life in the dark’.However, those willing to tell their stories attributed poverty, joblessness and pleasure as reasons for selling their bodies. “But the good thing about this business is that the number of customers is ever growing. They are of different calibers. Rich people of Asian origin, Europeans and Africans visit the localities for satisfaction,
More about the true nature of commercial sex business in Dar es Salaam includes involvement of young women both educated and those without a strong base in education. Majority of those who volunteered to speak confess that commercial sex business was not their choice of life but were left with no other option to offset hardships in life.
Each of the ten identified operation sites has distinct characteristics accommodating a specific category of ‘service providers’. In terms of functionality, the groups have one thing in common; ‘keep the number at a manageable level to minimize competition.’
The hotspots include Ohio Street, high-class drinking nightclubs and some of the tourist hotels in Dar es Salaam where ‘hunting’ ladies would wait for ‘hungry’ customers. These can speak English, a bit of French and Spanish. They have access to well-off customers.
OTHER SIDE OF PROSTITUTION IN TANZANIA
Graduate with A’s not with AIDS” at the University of Dar es Salaam tells the grim story of desperately cash-strapped female students who are resorting to prostitution to survive.
“College life is too tough, and I don’t have other means to earn an income, what to do? I have to inevitably make use of my body to survive,” said Mariam, 24, who is pursuing a degree in social work at the Institute of Social Work here. Mariam and other students interviewed declined to give their full names.
As an off-campus student, Mariam is entitled to a daily stipend of 7,500 Tanzanian Shillings (TZS), or about $4.60, from the Higher Education Students Loan Board, to help cover her meals and accommodation, but she complains the tiny allowance is rarely being paid on time.
To cope with the soaring cost of living in this sprawling city, Mariam, who comes from Singida region in central Tanzania, shares a dilapidated rented room with a colleague in the Kijitonyama neighborhood, nearby the college. A big chunk of her allowance goes to rent.
Almost daily, she gets up in the middle of the night, puts on her make-up and a sexy dress and joins a stream of fellow students heading to the up-market neighborhood of Sinza, where they troll for prospective clients.
Despite the danger of contracting HIV/AIDS, which members of parliament and university officials say has infected a number of her fellow students, Mariam believes that selling sex to make money to sustain her college life is a risk worth taking.
A matter of life or death
“It’s a matter of life or death…but at least I have the knowledge to protect myself from the deadly virus. There is no excuse for not using a condom,” she said.
Mariam joins the throng of other prostitutes in Sinza, which has become a center of nightlife, including nightclubs, bars and myriad guest houses catering to short-term customers.
“My mind is very clear, I am not supposed to do this business but since I am far away from home and I don’t have financial support, I suppose I have to be in the game,” she said.
Despite a shy demeanor, Mariam proves adept when dealing with potential customers. She said she targets wealthy married men because they pay more.
“Married men are best ones to deal with. You don’t have to bargain the price since you are assured of bagging extra money,” she said.
On average she would earn TZS.30,000 to 45,000, or between about $18 and $28, per night depending on the flow of customers. She charges TZS.10,000 to TZS.15,000, or between $6 and $9, per transaction.
“I usually decline customers who want an overnight sex, since I need time for study… it’s a risky business but we do it,” she said.
“Some clients don’t pay, I am always very careful to ensure that they pay me in advance, “she said of the challenges she faces.
Mariam’s story illustrates the plight of hundreds of other female university students who see prostitution as the only way to finance their survival while they study.
The Dar es Salaam University Students’ Organization (DARUSO) has said that some of its female members, especially those who are off-campus, have been forced to seek multiple partners to supplement their tiny, and often late, allowance payments.
DARUSO’s minister for health told TrustLaw that “It’s a pity that our colleagues are getting caught in the trap but merely because the students’ allowances are not enough… the government should take this issue seriously to improve students’ welfare”
Simon Kivamwo, chairman of Association of Journalist Against AIDS (AJAAT), said prostitution is one of the contributing factors to the escalation of the HIV/AIDS pandemic, primarily due to the pressing economic needs of female students.
“Women have become the soft target for HIV infections because of their inferior position in the society. This has to change,” he says.
A growing social and economic problem
Experts say a number of students getting into prostitution is indicative of a growing social and economic problem.
Justa Mwaituka runs Kiota for Women’s Health and Development (KIWOHEDE), a nonprofit that assists women and girls vulnerable to exploitation and abuse, such as prostitution, trafficking and underpaid labor, due to poverty and neglect. She noted that the Tanzanian system of education does not prepare students, especially girls, to be economically independent.
“There’s a need to empower our children both morally and economically so that they don’t venture into risky behavior” she said.
According to the latest behavioral and biological surveillance survey conducted in 2011, HIV/AIDS prevalence among female sex workers in Dar es Salaam is high.
The survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, found that about 31.4 percent of 7,500 female sex workers aged between 15 and 35 are HIV positive.
Experts said prostitutes are at high risk of contracting HIV infection because the nature of their job allows for inconsistent use of condoms.
“A prostitute had little power to negotiate the use of condoms to customers who insist on unprotected sex,” said Method Kazaura, a researcher from Muhimbili University of Health and Allied Sciences.
Although illegal, prostitution has attracted hundreds of young women, including university graduates, who find it difficult to secure jobs within their study disciplines.
At 29, Susan, who holds a Bachelors of Arts degree in sociology from Tumaini University here, said she has not been able to find a job despite having all the required qualifications.
Members of parliament, citing the problem of prostitution and HIV/AIDS infection among female students, have urged the government to issue stipends in a more timely fashion.
“These are leaders of tomorrow, but the environment they live in does not prepare them to take the challenge. The government has to make students’ welfare its top priority,” said Kebwe Stephen Kebwe, an MP on the Parliamentary HIV/AIDS committee.
According to Dar es Salaam Special Zone Police Commander Suleiman Kova, the police recently conducted a special operation which nabbed 53 commercial sex workers, out of whom 18 were students in various institutions.
Section 146 of Tanzania’s penal code states “A woman who lives wholly or in part on the earnings of prostitution or who is proved to have, for the purpose of gain, exercised control, direction or influence other over the movements of a prostitute in such a manner as to show that she is aiding, abetting or compelling her prostitution with any person, or generally, commits an offense.
Despite frequent crackdowns, however, public prosecutors have often failed to institute criminal charges against prostitutes since the law regards it as a minor of fence.
On the other side of prostitution for a very small amount is due to the growing and very loving character having sex, this is know due to the observations of interviews with some of the prostitute. in unusual circumstances, I met a sister who is in my investigations, I discovered that her family grew with the life of a very high standard, can be accessed desire to know what source he decide to do prostitution, she took time to answer me, but came up with the only answer "that is my practice to have sex almost every day and in case I missed then to form in a very difficult time and that my soul content, i must meet at least two or three men a day to satisfy me at the rate I'm going and it's hard to find men and that is why I sat in place of prostitution to find men" finished speaking confidently, while the other side still prostitution is the love of sex as an individual character? .
By Steven Mruma.
Credit:- 24TANZANIA, (S.Mubiru) and Thomson Reuters Foundation (K.Makoye) and (Lisa A.)