Scores of young girls are queuing for sex with men who are ready to pay in Blantyre, youth commissioner in National Aids Commission (NAC) Chimwemwe Kaonga has witnessed.
According to Kaonga, girls are queuing up for sex in commercial city’s unofficial red light streets and drinking joints.
“I did a spot check during one of the evening in our townships; I saw tens and tens of girls some as young as 12 and 13 years standing along the streets and drinking joints waiting for men to exchange their bodies with money,” Kaonga is quoted in the local press.
“I was so shocked, this situation is deplorable and unacceptable,” said Kaonga.
NAC official said some of the girls are forced by their parents to sell sex for economic reasons.
The increase of girls offering themselves for sex for survival has been driven by rising poverty levels.
Kaonga has since called on Blantyre City Council to ensure the pubs operate within their time limits and not accommodate underage-girls.
He said efforts to reduce new HIV infections are being hampered by the rising sexual work by girls.
With unemployment rate rising, sex has become a means to survive for many girls and even a form of peer pressure.
In the capital city, Lilongwe, particularly in such areas as Likuni, the situation is such that young women, even below the age of 15, use prostitution as a way to earn an income.
They do not sleep at all. Most have dropped out of school, and make use of drinking joints to earn their money.
“If you are lucky enough you sleep with two to three men and earn about 6000 Malawi Kwacha,” said 18 year old Josephine (not her real name).
Another woman, Sophie (also not real name) said that she lost her parents when she was young, and decided to engage in sex work to help her sisters and brothers.
“I have my younger sisters who I am looking after. Being the oldest I had no choice when we lost both parents, but went on to engage in prostitution,” she said.
One thing the interviewees all had in common was that they saw the profession as a means of survival.
Malawi, just like many other countries in Africa, criminalises sex work. Without any legal machinery to regulate the profession, this group of young people is very vulnerable. And while HIV and AIDS continues to be a major health challenge in Malawi and other sub-Saharan countries, these young women need to be given special attention to protect themselves from the pandemic.Follow and Subscribe Nyasa TV :