SEX workers in Chiadzwa are reportedly using plastic bread packaging as a substitute for condoms when the protective gear is in short supply in the diamond mining area, it has been established.
This came to light during a media tour organised by the National Aids Council (NAC) where journalists were having an appreciation of some of the programmes being implemented in the fight against HIV and Aids.
Addressing the media, a 21-year-old Mutare sex worker who started sex work at the age of 16, said bread packaging was being used as a substitute for condoms when sex workers face shortages.
“In most cases, the bread packaging is worn by the man as a substitute for condoms.
“This is normal in Chiadzwa and clients find nothing unusual about it. We normally do it because we do not want to lose a client, especially those who insist on the use of condoms.
“However, on some occasions, we get nasty clients who refuse to use the bread packaging and opt for unprotected sex,” she said.
In the diamond-rich area, a condom is sold for between US$1 and US$2, depending on the scarcity of the product at that particular time.
“We normally sell condoms among ourselves, so if one is desperate to be intimate with a big spending client, they will buy that condom for as high as US$2. They willingly buy it because they will recover their money from the client’s payment,” she added.
The 21-year-old narrated her journey in the world’s oldest profession.
“At 16, I fully graduated into the profession and would visit bars and move to areas with more clients, including Penhalonga and Chiadzwa.
“I used to stay with my mother, a cross-border trader, so I took advantage of her long absence from home to engage in sex work. I peddled flesh away from my hood.
“Since I stayed in Chikanga, I would go to Dangamvura or Penhalonga where people hardly knew me. I was also a drug addict.
“I got into this profession due to peer pressure. Comparing my life with schoolmates led me into this.
“While in Form Two, I had three older friends in Form Four and they influenced me to join prostitution,” she said.
Contacted for comment, Mutare medical practitioner, Dr Tendai Zuze said bread packaging might not be strong enough to sustain the pressure of friction during intercourse.
“It can easily break and put the people involved at risk of transmission of sexually transmitted diseases,” said Dr Zuze.
Cases of sexually transmitted infections have significantly increased in the diamond mining area of Chiadzwa amid reports of an influx of artisanal miners, popularly referred to as “magweja”.
Population Health Solutions (PSH) Clinical Services coordinator, Mr Maxwell Madyauta, confirmed the increase in STI cases in Chiadzwa.
Mr Madyauta said there are various interventions being deployed to combat the surge.
“We have had an increase in cases of STIs in Chiadzwa, ostensibly because of the influx of artisanal miners in that area.
“This is a recent observation we have made. In fact, we have started using various intervention methods such as distribution of condoms to ensure that we arrest the situation.
“We have gathered that at times they run out of condoms so we are making efforts to always be on top the situation,” Mr Madyauta.