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The unheard voices, unhealed injuries

Mbeya carnival

Mbeya Carnival Night Club at night full of a pool of cars. (Photo by Admin)


By Daniel Mbega, Mbeya

FOR Jacqueline Mwamfupe*, a sex hooker plying her business at the Mbeya Carnival Night Club, love has turned to be the pleasures of the past as it has left her with so many injuries in her life, forcing her to lead a life she once hated most.

The first time she was raped by a young man when still at secondary school she thought was an accident as she also loved him though she wasn’t ready for the time and wouldn’t dare to report the incident anywhere, but when real love came, things turned to be worse.

“I got married by a man whom I loved most. He was like a king to me as he also showed real love and cared. We had two kids in our marriage – a boy and a girl. But all of a sudden, things changed. He started beating me with no reason, coming home late and drunk and sometimes wouldn’t turn up for three days,” told Jacqueline as she gave this reporter her testimony regarding the huddles some females face in the love game.

She says that she was forced to leave her home in Tukuyu one morning when her husband came back from work (he was a hotel supervisor) as drunk as ever, got in the bed without undressing forcing her to undress him as she did most of the times.

It was while undressing that she found out her husband was still wearing a used condom!

“When I asked him, I got terrible beating that I will never forget in my whole life. The guy nearly killed me, thanks to my neighbours who came on time to rescue me and took me to hospital where I was admitted for two weeks. He didn’t come to see me even once, and when I was discharged I decided to come to Mbeya, and here I am leading this kind of life.

“To me, men are just beasts who need to be tamed, and it doesn’t matter how you tame them. I like to see them hurt and that gives me pleasure. I look for a man with a big purse, especially those who drink. When I get one, I prefer drinking in the bedroom in privacy. They think that I love them, but not. What I do inside leaves them yelling for months, or even years,” she says without blinking her eyes.

“Look at this!” She shows me a valium pill. “Once inside, when the guy is drunk, I mix this with his drink and in a few time the guy feels unconscious. That is when I empty his pockets and leave him snoring.”

Jacqueline is one of many girls looming around Mbeya Carnival, the only and popular night club in this city along the Mbeya – Zambia highway, which is full of people every Friday to Sunday with two live bands – Itumba and Baby TOT – performing.

When you pass around this area in those nights, you could find a pool of cars parked outside, while inside there is a lot of noise from the band performing zilipendwa (old songs) with the dancing floor full of people.

Some of the girls dance non-stop as they can’t sit on the tables because they don’t have money to buy drinks, though it is not a sin to get a break. A friend of mine tells me that most of them are on business, hunting for people in-needy who could give them money in return.

“Mbeya is one of the big cities in Tanzania, and this is the only one-stop-club where most people, even those on transit, dare to come to pass their time. Just like Dar es Salaam and Arusha, commercial sex is growing very fast in Mbeya as you can see,” my friend tells me.

I found myself shaking my head in disgust: wondering what kind of life our community is leading and what about the HIV/AIDS catastrophe and infection rate. ‘Prostitution’ has been a major theme in discussions about the global AIDS and HIV epidemic. The media often run stories about HIV that focus on sex workers, individuals who sell sex, and both governments and HIV related organisations frequently talk about prostitutes and prostitution in the context of AIDS.

High rates of HIV have been found amongst individuals who sell sex in many different and diverse countries, and even where HIV prevalence is low amongst this group, it is usually higher than the rate found amongst the general adult population.

“Excuse me, brother. Could you buy me a drink?” a lady’s voice tells me on my back. I turn up and find two ladies standing by our table. My friend tries to say something but I cut him off by pulling a chair to give room for the lady to sit while her friend has already invited herself on another. Two drinks are saved for them on our bill.

“Why aren’t you drinking beer?” the first lady asks after seeing me drinking a Pepsi Cola while my friend is drinking Ndovu Lager. I tell her that I don’t feel well as I had a long drive. This irritates her and she wants to go, but I insist that they don’t have to go because we would like their company.

“I don’t like the company of a man who doesn’t drink, every time he is alert and that is not the way I do business. You can’t escape him once you have drunk his beer. Anyway, you seem a foreigner here. My name is Halima Mgaya* and my friend here is Joyce Chagula*. Thanks for the drinks,” she says.

As time pass by, Halima starts to curse her parents, especially his polygamous father, who didn’t take her to school after being selected to join a public secondary school.

“I hate him, because if it hadn’t been for him, now I would have been an economist. He is the one who made me hate men because he didn’t do his responsibility. How could you be a father while you don’t care for them? I didn’t ask to be born, but him and my mother brought me to the world. Not one in our family has ever been to a secondary school, as the last born, I thought maybe my dad could change his mind and take me to school. Instead he left us – eleven of us – in the village and disappeared. I think all men are the same and I hate them,” she says, saying that she is only 19 years old.

Halima says she prefers sleeping with married men because they know how to care and leave her with a big sum of money when they are done.

“I know that it is not fare, but most of my clients are married men. I wonder maybe their wives don’t satisfy them that’s why they hunt for sex outside. It pains to think that maybe even my mother didn’t satisfy my father leading him to find other women. But when a woman doesn’t fulfill her job, let other women do it for her,” she says.

Sex workers usually have a high number of sexual partners. This means that if they do become infected with HIV, they can potentially pass it on to multiple clients.

Preventing HIV infections amongst those involved in the sex trade has been proven to be an instrumental part of many countries’ fight against AIDS.

“My purse is full of condoms – male and female ones. When I get a client I tell him to use it, but some of them don’t use condoms, so to protect myself, I usually wear a woman condom. Life is too important to me,” Joyce Chagula*.

The term ‘sex worker’ refers to a wide array of people who sell sex, and who work in a variety of environments. They include women, men and transgender people and people who may work either full time or part time, in brothels, or bars, on the street or from home for example.

“It is a shameful business, yes. But what can we do?” asks Jacqueline. “If I was educated, I would find a good job, but I don’t have enough money to start a legal business. All I do is hand to mouth business, sometimes you get money and sometimes they don’t give you even a single quid!”

*Not their real names.

(END)

Reach me through: mbega.daniel@gmail.com, or +255 715 070109. Visit me at: http://www.kilimohai.wordpress.com

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