Zambia hails its sex workers for stepping up amid COVID-19 spread

Mohammed Awal May 11, 2020
Sex workers in a slum called Chawama in Lusaka, Zambia walk to their rented brothel room to attend to some clients who refused to be photographed on December 17, 2016. (Prudence Phiri, GPJ Zambia)

At the time sex workers in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria are calling for recognition as essential service providers amid complaints of struggles to make ends meet in this coronavirus pandemic, their counterparts in Zambia are being hailed for their stupendous support in the country’s battle against the contagion.

This comes as some sex workers at the border of Nakonde tested positive for the virus that has infected 267 people with 117 recoveries and seven deaths.

Citing the country’s health minister, Chitalu Chilufya, British Broadcaster, BBC reports the infected sex workers cooperated fully with authorities and helped immensely in contract tracing.

“Sex workers have been very co-operative and they are giving us all the leads we want,” Chilufya was quoted as saying. Seventy-six of the 85 new cases recorded were said to be either sex workers or drivers.

“They [sex workers] are being very co-operative in our investigations, and we don’t want to stigmatize or discriminate against them. They are being very useful in contact tracing,” Chilufya said.

“We had a case where one of them appeared with symptoms and told us about a client who was a lorry driver of foreign jurisdiction and even gave us a contact number. We called that number and we were told the person we called had Covid-19,” the minister added.

Chilufya said the situation in Nakonde “remains grave,” and the president is concerned,” adding that the president had ordered the border to be “temporarily closed.”

President Edgar Lungu last week reopened restaurants, casinos, and gyms after a month-long shutdown to enforce social distancing measures.

Meanwhile, in Northern Nigeria, the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on sex workers has been bitingly devastating.

Aisha, who lives in the mainly Muslim state of Kano, which is in the fourth week of a lockdown told the BBC that the devastation has hit her pocket hard.

“Almost everybody here is a Muslim, so it’s not possible because in the afternoon they are all around with their family and in the evening they want to go and break their fast with their family.

“Most of our clients are married men, so it’s not easy for them coming out,” Aisha cried.

Last Edited by:Kent Mensah Updated: May 11, 2020


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