You may find it unthinkable but for the first time, sex workers in Zimbabwe have been allowed to exhibit at the country’s biggest international Trade Fair event.
This year’s Zimbabwe International Trade Fair Company has been described as one of the biggest as it witnessed an increase in the exhibitor numbers and pre-registration, with sex workers also being allowed to show off their work for the first time.
“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.
“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” Sexual Rights Centre legal support officer Sipho Khumalo was quoted by local media News Day.
Sexual Rights Centre is a human rights organisation that works with marginalized groups including sex workers, lesbian, gay, transgender and bisexual and intersex community in advocating for their sexual rights.
The organisation has over the years been leading efforts to get these sex workers a stand at the trade fair event but were denied.
Khumalo believes the latest development has given sex workers the chance to quell the negative perception people have about them and to educate the general public about safe sex practices.
“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.
Zimbabwe as at last year had about 44 586 sex workers, with 7 000 of them based in Bulawayo, according to the country’s Health and Child Care ministry.
Here’s how people are reacting to their presence at the Fair:
Sex workers show off work at Zimbabwe “International Trade” Fair – is this what we have been reduced to Zimbabwe? ZITF used to showcase our great manufacturing companies – now it exhibits prostitution, soldiers and ZANU PF. #timeforrealchange https://t.co/dcGq7dHOC4
— David Coltart (@DavidColtart) April 26, 2018
This year sex workers get to exhibit at the Zimbabwe international trade fair. I wonder what they will be doing.
— Hazel Murwisi (@hazemajesty) April 26, 2018
A Bulawayo radio presenter (11:16AM ) is encouraging pipo to stream to Zanu International Scarf Fair or (Zimbabwe International Trade Fair ) and visit sex workers stand and BUY THEIR PRODUCTS !!!
— Nqobile (@nqobilebhebhe) April 26, 2018
It is so sickening to see the Zimbabwe International Trade fair exhibit Sex workers ,Army and Zanu Pf. An institution that used to showcase our deep and wide industry ,innovations and technologies. It breaks my heart
— Mteliso Farai (@mteliso1) April 26, 2018