AN opposition Zimbabwean Member of Parliament has rounded more than 300 sex workers in Bulawayo to push forward legalization of prostitution in the country.Bulawayo East House of Assembly Member, Ms Thabitha Khumalo, said she has mobilised ladies of the night to join a union and sign a petition seeking to decriminalise their activities.
The aim for the recognition of sex workers and allow them access to health services.
Khumalo said the Commercial Sex Workers’ Union when formed, would be affiliated to the Zimbabwe Congress of Trade Unions (ZCTU) just like any other worker representative union.
“Yes, I have so far mobilised more than 300 commercial sex workers. I want them to form a union and make them sign a petition that will seek to decriminalise their activities. They are workers just like you and me and I do not see any harm in them being unionised. I will, therefore, help them join worker representative unions such as the ZCTU so that they get the recognition and services that other workers’ unions in the country are getting.
“This profession is as old as humanity itself but we bury our heads in the sand and hope to wish it away. We must legalise it because doing so will be the only way to understand it better and will enable us to make effective interventions on HIV/AIDS.
“The country has been a bit slow in acknowledging the rights of commercial sex workers and I think it’s high time that we appreciate their existence and give them some recognition. In as much as we appreciate that they are drivers of the deadly HIV/AIDS we should not be too blind to the fact that these people require special access to health services so that we achieve zero stigmatisation, zero HIV infection and zero death to Aids,’’ she said.
MP Khumalo said it was sad that the sex workers were being stigmatised by the institutions that were supposed to protect them. She added that it was only through recognition of their rights as workers that such stigmatisation would end.
“The sex workers are at the mercy of sex hungry police officers who arrest them and demand sex in return for their freedom. They also service some of our Parliamentarians but surprisingly those are the people who are criminalising them without looking at the benefits that they get.
“Although the topic is not so popular among some Parliamentarians who are opposing the idea albeit in hushed voices for fear of being exposed I think it creates a platform for a healthy debate. As for me I am no stranger to such controversy. I was labelled all sorts of names with some saying I am a prostitute when I openly said the female condom was irritating and not user friendly but it turned out to be true and that many females do not prefer it,’’ she said.
She added that despite the muted opposition that she was facing, she was sure that the idea would be taken up and made a dream come true for the multitudes of sex workers who have been playing cat and mouse with the police.
[This news article was sourced from The Zimdiaspora http://www.zimdiaspora.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=7420:mp-rounds-up-300-prostitutes-to-form-qcommercial-sex-workerss-unionq&catid=38:travel-tips&Itemid=18]
An MDC-T legislator has vowed to continue pushing for the legalisation of prostitution and the inclusion of the "pleasure engineers'" rights in the country’s constitution.
Thabitha Khumalo, the MDC-T Member of Parliament for Bulawayo East, last week signed a petition calling for the decriminalization of the world’s oldest profession at an event said to have been attended by scores of working girls from the city.
“It (prostitution) is here to stay and we need to bite the bullet. Pleasure engineering did not begin in Bulawayo or Zimbabwe. It all began in the Garden of Eden and one of those pleasure engineers was Eve,” Khumalo told guest at the event.
“Who in their right mind will deny it? We will have to embrace it, whether we like it or not.”
Khumalo threatened to expose colleagues using the services of prostitutes if her campaign is not supported in Parliament. “Every time I get a chance to speak in Parliament I will speak of the decriminalisation of prostitution,” she said.
“If the calls are not heard then we will name and shame some ministers and other officials who have sought the services of pleasure engineers,” she said. Meanwhile working girls who attended the event organized by the Sexual Rights Centre blasted police for demanding free sex.
“They (police) love free rides because they carry guns and handcuffs. They take us to dark corners and take away our dignity and hard earned money,” one of the girls said. “Health workers too should stop discriminating us. As sex workers we should have labour rights.”
[This news article was sourced from NewZimbabwe.com http://www.newzimbabwe.com/news-6709-MP+pushes+legalisation+of+prostitution/news.aspx]