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Malawi: Prostitution fuelled by poverty and parental neglect

Faith wiggles her waist tantalizingly, attracting all the masculine attention at Izo Izo bar in Malawi's ramshackle township of Mbayani, half a km from the hub of the country's commercial city, Blantyre.

At the tender age of 14, Faith has already become one of the most popular sex workers at the bar. Her parents death conspired with lack of resources seems to have robbed her of all hopes of a normal course in life.

Faith admits that when she is not at Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, being treated for Sexually Transmitted Infections, you may as well make a date with her at Blantyre Police Station for being on the other side of the law.

Dangling a cigarette on her over-made lips, Faith calls the bar man, “One more beer,” as the drunken man almost four times her age publicly fondles her breasts in the semi-lit club.

“I don’t see my life improving at all. I think the future is what I already lived when my parents were around and provided all our needs. When they died, our future died with them,” she said. “I have so many things to take care of. I even take care of three siblings, one of whom has joined me in commercial sex work,” says Faith.

Faith has been in the game for quite some time to know all the corners and dangers. She says she does not really care about the HIV and AIDS pandemic. The only thing she fears is unforeseen pregnancies. She explains that unprotected sex fetches more money, which means three more days of good food and satisfactory life for her.

According to Charles Banda, programs officer at the Youth Net and Counseling (YONECO) his organization has done enough research for him to say that many children continue to be victims of sexual exploitation due to poverty.

Banda says that despite his organization having so many projects that seek to empower young girls, many parents still chose to remain silent on sexual rights violations because of the poverty burden.
Parental neglect
Banda’s organisation carried out a research and found that the vast majority of young Malawians (more than 90 percent both in rural and urban areas) most of them aged between 12-14, have knowledge about sexually transmitted infections. But still, many chose to go into risky sexual business either because of poverty or lack of parental care.

“Studies have shown that most parents are not open with their children and this forces the victimized children to shy away from reporting abuses and harassment to their parents” says Malawi’s minister of Gender, Children and Community Development Patricia Kaliati. The studies also shows that neglect by parents as one of the factors that leads to teenage delinquency.

Source: Africa News


Photo: Camerarwanda Flickr.comCC