Malawi govt moves to address  sex workers’ grievances

Malawi government has moved to address grievances the female sex workers have been raising in relation to the strict Covid-19 preventive measures the government is implementing to tame the coronavirus disease pandemic.

Zinenani (left) making her presentation while seated.- photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
A cross section of sex workers attentively listen to Kwataine’s address.- photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times
Kwataine addressing sex workers in Salima as Zinenani (with surgical mask centre) and Simwaka prepare their presentations.- photo by Watipaso Mzungu, Nyasa Times

The Covid-19 preventive measures had reportedly forced sex workers to reduce their charges by 30 percent as the largest constituency of their clientele had stopped frequenting entertainment joints and bars.

This prompted sex workers, under the banner of Female Sex Workers Association (FSWA), to take to the streets of Lilongwe where they protested the measures.

They asked the government to uplift the ban on the time for opening bars and other entertainment places from the current 8pm to 12pm from Monday to Thursday.

They also asked the government to remove this ban from Friday to Sunday when they say their business is usually at peak.

The association warned that it would be forced to take unspecified action if the government did not address their concerns.

This week, the government has moved to address these grievances. On Saturday morning, the Office of the Presidential Advisor on NGOs, the Ministry of Health and Population and the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare engaged the leadership of FSWA in a dialogue to understand each other on what each party can take in combating the pandemic while protecting and promoting the welfare of the sex workers.

Over 30 sex workers – drawn from all the 28 districts, attended the meeting, which took place at Yamikani Lodge in Salima.

FSWA executive director Zinenani Majawa said the economic impact of COVID-19 resulting from the widespread closure of businesses and industries has put increased financial strain on communities, particularly in segments of the population that are already vulnerable such as female sex workers.

Zinenani disclosed that since the pandemic started and following the ban on public gatherings and order by city councils to close bars and bottlestores by 8pm, majority of the sex workers across the country reduced their charges by 30 percent as most of their reliable clients complain of being broke.

“Female sex workers’ income has dropped and, in some weeks, they spend days without making any money. Most of them do not have money for food, rent, medicine since most public health service points are operating partially,” she said.

She added that the pandemic, just as is the case with other health crises, is exposing existing inequalities and disproportionately affecting people already criminalized, marginalized and living in precarious health and economic situations, often outside social protection mechanisms.

Zinenani further lamented that sex workers are being sidelined in the in government’s Covid-19 response services.

“We therefore recommend that police should stop abusing and taking advantage of the plight of sex workers. The government should provide sex workers with safety nets,” she said.

Chief Gender Officer in the Ministry of Gender, Community Development and Social Welfare, Fred Simwaka, said the ministry has developed progressive policies and legal instruments that protect and promote the rights of every woman, including sex workers.

Simwaka therefore asked the sex workers to utilize the legal frameworks and policies to safeguard their rights.

Meanwhile, the Presidential Advisor on NGOs, Martha Kwataine, emphasized that the government understands the challenges sex workers face in this era of the pandemic; hence, it is taking all the necessary measures to address them.

However, Kwataine warned that lifting the ban on onsite consumption of alcoholic beverages would pose serious threat to the life of both customers as well as bar owners.

“I therefore pleaded with you to understand the government on why it is taking these decisions. They are for your own good and the good of your clients. It’s not as if the government simply wants to punish you,” she said.

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Justice for all
Justice for all
1 month ago

What a shame with the government leaving the teachers and attending sex workers this government doesn’t know it’s priorities than concentrating useless issues

Dsvan
Dsvan
1 month ago

What good will see worker’s do to the nation
There is more pressing issues to see to

Atuganire
Atuganire
1 month ago

Me tired of Mickey Mouse Republic heyaaa! Basi, tizikhalila kumvesera a zamadula pamajiga ???

Michael
Michael
1 month ago

Sex workers

Micjael
Micjael
1 month ago

Hi

Kamphand
Kamphand
1 month ago

The Tonse Govt values prostitutes more than Teachers hahaha what a shame, a busa taganizani ngati munthu wa mulungu, Malawians are not a problem but the leadership is the problem,,Za mahule ndiye kuyankha msanga msanga. Shame on you

Ntopwa 1
Ntopwa 1
1 month ago

Stupidity at its best! Entertaining maggots in our society. This reverend president is now joking.

Mbonga Matoga
Mbonga Matoga
1 month ago

Has sex work been legalised in Malawi now? Apologies for my ignorance, it’s a long time I left Malawi…….
I am just wondering why the government is wasting taxpayers money holding meetings with self confessed sex workers instead of arresting them…..

nafundo zalo
nafundo zalo
1 month ago

eee a kwataine mwa dzina lao. shaa za pandemic yi mwazitaya uko? kapena kudikila NGO ikuyerseni mmanja

Dan
Dan
1 month ago

Just encouarage them to go and do other things than go spreading HIV around. Whet is it that they cannot do that they decide to trade in their private parts? Is this the commitment we need to keep busy with? Whenthey were making a lot f money ot of stealing through their privates how much did they pay in taxes? Why should they be considered to use other peoples taxes ? NO NO NO NO Never

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