'Well pay you in Oranges’ – prostitution atrocities by our community

Once again our intolerance and disregard for human rights brings me to you. Although we focus on child soldiers this week – I’m touching on an issue that affects them but also affects a large number of people in this continent – prostitution. I won’t speak on the moral and legal aspect that affects our society, we have beaten that dead horse.

I wont speak on what prostitutes to do the moral fabrics of our community, instead speak on how we the community violate and abuse these people – and how our beloved constitutions are set up have left a number of prostitutes violated and abused. A few years ago I watch a documentary on my national television station, Botswana Television. ‘Re Mmogo’ (loosely translated into ‘we’re together’) was a show that tackled issues of HIV/AIDS with the aim of sensitizing the public. On one fateful show they discussed the issue of prostitution also interviewing several sex workers. I learned from that show alone how much abuse these women endure not only at the hands of the men that take their sexual services and reward them in oranges but also by the very men who were placed in official positions to protect these women, the police.

These women are daily shunned and reviled by the community, the police, and their clientele even the pimps too. Personally, I believe that we have really narrowed down the definition of prostitution. What is prostitution? Well that we have established from back in the day. The act of providing sexual services for financial gain, correct? This leads me to my next point, how do we classify them? As a young man who was exposed to the media scene at a young age I’ve witnessed a number of acts that should be classified as prostitution.

The girl who gets a P1000.00 in the morning from a one-night stand still feels she is morally above the young woman standing on the streets trying to feed her children because of lack of occupation has pushed her last resort. Is that girl who slept with that tender businessman for an iPhone. Furthermore, the brand new trend of young men sleeping with older women or married women for financial gain. Prostitution occurs in many forms but we remain oblivious to this fact. Of course the illegal status of prostitutes in Africa unfortunately deprives them of a legal stand in fighting for their rights, or lack of. That is a fight we as civilians cannot fight, however, yet again like homosexuality the issue of human rights is passed on to us. The stigma and discrimination is perpetuated by society. We once again judge and stigmatize when it suits us.

(side note: it’s quite fascinating rather how most would use religion to back their arguments on prostitution yet we normalize having children out-of-wedlock, isn’t it?).

When stigma and discrimination is removed from the equation there is a lot we can achieve as a society that does not judge based on ones profession, sexual orientation or HIV status, but a society that passes judgement based on character, personality and what one does to try to make a difference in the community. One might say that I am enabling prostitution, my views on prostitution and its legalization are a different matter to those on human rights violations and the ill-treatment of sex workers. As a humanitarian I stand for peace and the upholding of human rights for all regardless of profession and other factors.

Let us be wary of how we end up trying each other in society for at the end of the day most of us do not have children and those who do are uncertain for the future career paths their children will fall in. It is better we fix what has lacked in society now to prepare a better tomorrow for our children.