SEX workers have, for the first time, been granted the opportunity to exhibit at this year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair (ZITF) after being barred from participating at previous fairs.

BY TALENT GUMPO

Sexual Rights Centre legal support officer Sipho Khumalo told Southern Eye yesterday that they were delighted to be allowed to exhibit at the trade showcase for the first time in the history of the fair.

“It is so great to be here showcasing our work. It has been a struggle, but we are glad that we have finally got the chance to express ourselves for society and the society to know that sex work is work like any other,” she said.

“We are happy that we got the chance to show the world that we are not parasites, we are working to earn a living for our families.”

Khumalo said previously, efforts to exhibit at ZITF hit a brick wall, as society still had negative perceptions about the profession.

“We have tried to exhibit before, but we have been met with criticism because people do not really appreciate the work we do. They do not realise that we are working to earn a living, but we have since engaged other civic society organisations that work with us advocating for sexual rights and we are here,” she said.

“We are here, we are part of the community and we are not going anywhere. We are trying to teach people that they should accept us as part of them and desist from violating us because we are just like any other member of the society.”

Khumalo said the exhibition had given sex workers a platform to be recognised in society and to teach people about safe sex.

“People know little about our profession, so here we teach them that we practise safe sex and we must not be seen as people who are spreading HIV as society views us,” she said.

The Health and Child Care ministry last year reported that the country had about 44 586 sex workers, with 7 000 of them based in Bulawayo.