President Robert Mugabe yesterday clashed with visiting UN human rights chief Navi Pillay after she appeared to suggest that legalising prostitution and homosexuality could go a long way in combating the spread of HIV/AIDS.
A conservative Mugabe was rattled by Pillay's suggestion and swore that this would happen OVER HIS DEAD BODY. Zimbabwe's laws do not legalise commercial sex work as well as same-sex marriages. Currently, police in Harare have intensified a blitz on prostitutes and women found in pubs claiming they are trying to stop crime which is being promoted by prostitution.
Speaking at a high-level women's meeting organised by Global Power Women Network in Africa, headed by Deputy prime Minister Thokozani Khupe, Pillay said legalising homosexuality and prostitution would help control control the spread of HIV/Aids. Pillay is in the country on a five-day fact-finding mission highlighting the country's human rights record.
"These (HIV and Aids) challenges call for a change in law, policy and practice. leadership is required on many fronts and let me name property inheritance and child custody rights for widows, early marriage, sex education for young people, sexual violence and marital rape, access to a full range of modern contraceptive, criminalisation of homosexuality, sex work, and stigma associated with HIV and Aids," said Pillay.
This did not go down well with President Mugabe who has previously described homosexuality as 'worse than dogs and pigs'. When the president stood to give his keynote address, he did not mince his words.
"As the Deputy Prime Minister (Khupe) stated, she, and she alone has the womb. I do not know why others believe in gay world, but we do not live that world in Africa. We realise that there are mothers why by nature are given that talent to bear a child in their wombs. That talent does not belong to men. It certainly does not," said the President.
In Zimbabwe, homosexuality has largely remained a controversial subject. Most people, especially politicians have spoken against it. Bulawayo East MP Tabitha Khumalo (MDC-T) has made calls on prostitution, claiming that this will reduce new HIV infections as well as reduce the number of people dying of Aids. According to Khumalo, legalising the world's oldest profession would ensure that those involved in the 'thigh vending' business negotiate for safe sex and seek medication when they fall ill.
"It (prostitution) is here to stay and we need to bite the bullet. PLEASURE ENGINEERING (prostitution) did not begin in Bulawayo or Zimbabwe. It all began in the Garden of Eden and one of those PLEASURE ENGINEERS was Eve," preached legislator Khumalo. Dailynews