Politics & General News

Climate Change Forcing Zimbabwean Girls Into Sex Work

Tawanda, 16, gazes calmly into the sky as the sun sets, getting ready for work as the night begins. Tawanda, whose name has been changed to protect her identity, is among hundreds of girls from Zimbabwe’s rural regions who joined the sex trade in recent years in urban centres.“We wait until dusk to start working Mostly our clients are ones we protect because they do not want to be seen as one is married and others are respected people in the community. Otherwise, we are open for 24 hours,” Tawanda says.Soon after the death of her parents, she dropped out of school as her grandmother could no longer afford the fees. After years of drought and failed crops, Tawanda could not see a future in the countryside, prompting her at age of 14 to relocate to the capital Harare in search of a better life.“I came here as a babysitter. For six months I worked as a maid, but it was not lucrative. When the COVID-19 pandemic started, it became worse because the woman I was working for reduced my already meagre salary. So I quit the job,” she says.Tawanda did not want to go back home and relocated to Epworth, 12km (7.5 miles) east of the capital Harare, where after meeting friends she was initiated into sex work.

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