Sex Workers took to Harare’s Africa Unity Square yesterday to protest the way the police were treating them.
Donned in purple they joined a protest against the treatment of women in general by the police. One of the big issues was to do with women being victimised for walking about at night being suspected of prostitution.
It is common cause that a woman will be stopped by police if walking alone at night. Hell, we even know of women who have been targeted while sitting in their cars. Yes, in their cars. How the policeman thinks she is selling from her car we have no idea. In one instance a friend of ours was parked outside our flat and the policeman questioned the couple because they suspected that they were parked there for the purposes of engaging in prostitution.
The police of course will say none of this is happening. Yet, the sex workers, who officially do not exist, will tell you of how they have been forced to have sex for freedom in police holding cells.
Then there was the story from a few months ago in which the police were accused of targeting women in raids in some parts of town, almost effecting an unofficial curfew on the town.
Of course according to the police none of this is happening and the good Inspector James Sabawu will tell you that noone has reported this abuse.
Maybe that is the problem. People generally don’t report things in this country. Maybe it is because they do not have faith in the system, but reporting cases might be a start.
Whatever it is, as the kids on twitter say, #WeNeedAnswers!
Of course we know of a few of our mates who would have been dodging that area yesterday for fear of being spotted by a sex worker. Ah, this life.