A new report released by a Zimbabwean NGO says construction workers of Chinese nationality have been exploiting underage Zimbabwean girls for sex.
An investigation by a local child rights advocacy group revealed that Chinese nationals working in the Victoria Falls area are taking advantage of poverty- stricken underage girls by offering them $2 in exchange for sexual gratifications, according to New Zimbabwe.
The report, which was commissioned by the Zimbabwe Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC), said it sought to establish the number of young girls aged 18 years and younger engaging in commercial sex work throughout the country.
More about this
The report says the sexual exploitation of minors has been going on in the resort town for at least five years after the government — through the Civil Aviation of Zimbabwe — commissioned a Chinese company to handle the expansion of Victoria Falls International Airport.
Part of the report, which was published last week, said, “While young girls were noted at all the study sites, extremely younger ages were noted in Hwange and Victoria Falls.”
ZNCWC said the report took about a year to put together while adding that it carried out the research in selected HIV hot spots throughout Zimbabwe, where it interviewed a sample of 300 respondents.
“During data collection the research team witnessed Chinese employees at the airport construction company soliciting for sexual services for as little as $2 from young girls.”
The report pointed out that the prevailing poverty in the region is one of the many reasons why vulnerable young girls are caught up in the sex trade.
“In Hwange, the main reason reported to be pushing young girls in to sex was household poverty triggered by high unemployment rates, whereas in Victoria Falls the main reason provided was the existence of the Victoria Falls International Airport construction community amid surrounding communities in Lupinyu that are marred by poverty and lack of fees to attend school,” the ZNCWC report said.
At press time, neither the Zimbabwean or Chinese authorities have instituted legal proceeding toward prosecuting the alleged sex offenders, and rights groups say they fear the case against the Chinese expats may go the way of a 2013 incident in the Central African Republic, where French UN peacekeeping troops accused of sexually exploiting boys — some as young as 13 — were curiously discharged and acquitted by a French court.