Sharon Kavhu
\nSex workers are popular for patrolling their areas at night while wearing sexually-provocative outfits, but not anymore. Probably to match the ever-changing times, the “thigh vendors”, “ladies of the night” or “hookers” as they are called, are adopting new strategies. In a recent visit to Ngundu Boarder Post, The Sunday Mail Extra established that there could be as many as four classes of sex workers – travel sex workers, bar sex workers, retired bar sex workers and indoor sex workers.

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“I earn a living through sex work but no-one can tell that I do the same job with those other women who lure men for sex with their semi-nude outfits,” said Rosaria Munyiki (37), a travel sex worker based at Ngundu. The 37-year-old woman openly shared her lifestyle.

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Ms Munyiki said she has been in sex work for more than a decade and has seen and learnt a lot on how to survive in sex work.
\n“Unlike other common sex workers, I dress decently in long dresses and skirts that cover all my essentials. The only things I carry with me are my passport, a few clothes to change and condoms.”

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She said she offers sex to long-distance truck drivers in exchange of money or free transport as she also imports goods for resale locally.
\n“The idea of travelling with these truck drivers and offering them pleasure along their trips is different from the hassle of searching for clients while semi-naked,” Ms Munyiki said confidently.

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“Once I find a client to travel with, for the next three to four days I will not be looking for any other client. Instead, I will be attached to my one client, knowing that I will earn at least R3 500 for the services. Sometimes when I travel with my clients, especially to South Africa or Tanzania, I import clothes, handbags, furniture and bedroom suites.”

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She said the idea of being a travel sex worker was necessitated by her age as she is now older than most sex workers at Ngundu and cannot compete with them.

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“Back in the days, I used to wear those sexy outfits to lure men with my legs and bust but now due to old age, the competition is very stiff. Noone would love to watch my wrinkled and stretch-marked legs.”

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Ms Munyiki said travel sex work also allows her to have regular and fixed customers. In some cases, her regular clients put so much trust in her to the extent of taking her as a “wife-in-transit”.

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But sex work was never her ambition, she said she was forced by polygamy and an abusive marriage to join the profession.Another lady in the world’s oldest profession, Pamela Chimsoro (28) said she has seven permanent clients who have become her boyfriends.

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“The seven boyfriends do not know each other and I make sure that one person visits me at specified times to avoid clashes,” said Pamela.
\n“Through having fixed multiple sex partners for money, I have managed to start up a flea market so that people in my community and relatives do not realise that l am a lady of the night. Most of my relatives stay far away from Ngundu and I deliberately moved away from them because of this profession that is not socially accepted.”

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However, most of the sex workers at Ngundu are bar sex workers, the group that is quite adventurous.
\nThey offer part-time, over-night and sample services.

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They wear sexually-provocative outfits and usually take a little alcohol to boost confidence when approaching men.
\n“My sex market is the bar, I go into bars almost every night to lure men through sexually seductive dances before I approach them. I always take a few drinks to gather the guts,” said one bar sex worker who only identified herself as Erina.

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In a pair of tiny shorts and a tight-fitting top, Erina drew a lot of attention from men with her thick, light-skinned thighs.
\n“Men are like babies, they are easily turned on by silly things and we know their weaknesses. For instance, I know that my thighs are attractive and I apply lightening creams to make them more visible,” Erina said.

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“Sometimes if I just dance sedutively, men will definitely look at me and approach me. This makes my job easier.”
\nShe said she charges $5 for short time but in some cases when business is low, she can accept $3. Overnight charges are $20 for protected sex. For unprotected sex she charges a minimum of $50, depending on her need for money.

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“These days business is low.
\nTherefore I have come up with strategies to survive in the sex business. I sometimes approach truck drivers, offering sex for free as a way of giving them a sample of what I can do and I know that they will come back and pay for my services.”

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“I figured giving free samples is my only way to survive in this profession which has now been joined by many women, especially single mothers,” she added, before running to a potential client.

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Seating at the entrance of the council bar was a middle-aged woman who was being identified as “Matron” or Ambuya Dee. The woman said her market is men who wish to get services from elderly women.

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“I used to be a bar sex worker but right now I have retired and this is the main reason why most people call me matron. I do not approach men, instead I just sit quietly at this spot where I will be eyeing every man coming into this bar. Those in need of my service come to me,” said Ambuya Dee.

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The National Aids Council provincial co-ordinator for Masvingo, Mr Evos Makoni said Ngundu is one of the HIV and STI hot spots in the province because of the attraction offered by the cross-border truckers. They use Ngundu as a rest camp.

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“We have heard reports from CeSHHAR (a non-profit organisation that deals with sex workers) clinic that there are regular women who visit the clinic in search of STI treatment on a weekly basis. Ngundu is one of the reasons why the province is always recording high STI cases,” he said.