As the number of commercial sex workers in the country continues to grow, with some coming from neighbouring countries to earn a living, there is need for Government intervention to come up with fresh strategies that will help shift their attention from the flesh peddling activities to dignified professions.
In Botswana, there is no law that regards ‘sex work’, or prostitution, as a profession, neither is there a law directly against prostitution, as such there has been a growing number of young girls and foreign women who have resorted to this lifestyle as a source of income.
Sex workers are found in abundance in the Gaborone West area, Partial and areas around the Gaborone Sun Hotel.
From the researches carried out, some of the reasons cited in explaining why women get snared into the trade include poverty, chronic unemployment, domestic violence and drug addiction.
In the midst of such a dilemma, prostitution has been the most suitable solution for them. However, as most of these sex workers are earning a living through prostitution, very few can stand up and say “I made it in life through flesh-peddling”.
Like any other profession, prostitution has its own occupational hazards, which have proved to be more dangerous than most professions in society.
Prostitution has been realized as a chief spreader of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. Among the job-related hazards are unwanted pregnancies, painful abortions and risk of sexually transmitted diseases.
In the Gaborone West area where the majority of the young girls who indulge in this trade live, their living conditions are pathetic.
To add to the material condition of deprivation and distress, there is also stigmatization and marginalization, the social indignity of being ‘sinful’, being mothers of illegitimate children, being the target of most families’ frustrations and anger.
Above all, the physical labour involved in providing sexual services to multiple clients in a working day is intense and rigorous.
University of Botswana lecturer in Sociology, Log Radithlokwa, noted that there are quite a number of strategies that can be taken to fight against the increase in the number of commercial sex workers.
“For the young girls who have been pushed by poverty into engaging in this lifestyle,” he said, “there is need for the government to identify these girls and, if possible, take them back to school.”
Radithlokwa added that there was need for public education, especially in the kgotlas and schools, on the dangers associated with sex work and advising them that sex work is not a legal practice in society.
“Women and girls should not take prostitution as an alternative solution to their problems, seeing that the nation has enough resources to improve their lives for the better without resorting to prostitution,” he said.
It’s time the Government takes the bull by its horns and help out the ladies of the night to re-discover themselves and contribute not only to their own physical and social well being but to also positively contribute to the development of Botswana.
The Government should not close its eyes and imagine that these people are not there. It’s time they examine the major causes of prostitution, since the occupation is rarely a free choice and is never a preferred career path for most women.