IN the face of a long-running economic crisis, desperate Zimbabwe women have in recent been forced in record numbers into prostitution to make ends meet.
Now, according to Reuters, repeated failed crops caused by worsening drought have forced farmers in Zambia, Zimbabwe’s northern neighbour, to resort to prostitution as the easiest way.
“Christine Mwenda, a small-scale farmer in Zambia’s central Mumbwa region, to do what was previously unthinkable’, the news agency reports.
“Since 2014, the 37-year-old has been selling sex in Zambia’s capital Lusaka. The pay is better than growing maize, she said, and gives her a proper chance to feed her four children”, it quoted her saying.
It is yet another reminder how nearly all crises in Africa, usually hit women hardest. During conflict, as in Rwanda during the 1994 genocide, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Sudan, South Sudan, Burundi, and Somalia, belligerents resort to rape as other as a weapon.
In refugee camps, women often suffer the most, either raped, or sexually exploited and abused in return for food even by peacekeepers, as was dramatically illustrated in reports over the last year out of the Central African Republic and DRC.
In poor communities without services like water and sanitation, women are targeted as they go to wells to fetch water or at night when try to use external toilets.
These realities serve as reminders that peace, ending poverty, and improving social services are also the ultimate gender policies.