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Zimbabwe: fearsome soldiers demanding free sex as coup reward.

Author: Ray Mwareya in Quebec, Canada. (Senior Reporter). Date Published: 30 Mar 2018
  • Zimbabwe: soldiers coerce sex workers as reward for military coup

    Zimbabwe National Army officers across the country are reportedly demanding free services from sex workers as a show of appreciation for the role the military played in Operation Restore Legacy last November, a study has revealed.

    The coup saw Emmerson Mnangagwa taking over from his boss Robert Mugabe as president.

    The state board National Aids Council (NAC) and Zimbabwe Republic Police (ZRP) carried out a study last month to assess police officers knowledge, attitudes and practices towards key populations such as sex workers, gays, lesbians and drug users.

    During the research, the sex workers complained bitterly that soldiers, some at gunpoint across the country, were demanding free sex from them.

    “Soldiers have become the menace in various areas as they demanded free sex especially in the wake of the recent Operation Restore Legacy,” the research noted with the incidences reported to be high among soldiers based in Chiredzi, Zimbabwe´s famous sugarcane-growing town.

    “They claimed to have brought freedom to the country and as such should be rewarded. They were accused of not paying for the sex while using their guns to intimidate the sex workers. For fear of the guns, the sex workers end up giving in. When they asked the soldiers to pay; some soldiers would retort; ‘You want me to pay; where did you buy your womanhood?’”.

    Titled “Knowledge, attitudes and practices of police officers towards key populations in Zimbabwe” the study also noted the negative practices of police officers. It found that instead of eradicating or halting sex work, police officers were actually promoting the trade and the rise in new HIV infections.

    Male police officers were also accused of demanding free sex from the prostitutes during their patrol duties.

    “Sex workers are always in a hurry and fear detection by police officers. In this regard, they do not have time to negotiate safe sex thereby increasing chances of HIV infection,” the report says.

    “While the relationship with police officers has improved, there are some police officers who still demanded free sex particularly from new and young sex workers who may not be experienced and knowledgeable about their rights.

    "The following quotes from sex workers help to illustrate this: ‘are male police officers magicians who want free miracles? We are not state buses where they board for free out of respect for their uniforms?

    According to the report, demand for free sex is usually used to release those sex workers who would have been picked up on accusations such as stealing from clients. 

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