CHILD prostitution is on the rise at Chingwizi holding camp as school girls sell their bodies for as little as US$1.
Concerned parents at the camp have raised alarm and expressed deep concern over the rise in child prostitution as young girls resort to sex in exchange for food and money.
The parents told the Weekend Post during a recent visit to the holding camp that they were worried by the rise in prostitution amid reports of a serious outbreak of Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STIs).
The parents blame the rise in child prostitution to biting hunger as everyone is desperate to get something to eat. The young girls are abused by elders who can afford to give them foodstuffs.
Mike Madyanembwa, Chingwizi villagers’ spokesperson, said several girls had dropped out of school to concentrate on looking for food through prostitution.
"The appalling living conditions here are worsening every day. This time, parents are worried about their daughters who are dropping out of school opting for prostitution. They are doing this to get food so they can survive, it is really sad for the young girls," said Mudyanembwa.
The girls aged between 13 and 16 are offering sex services for any kind of food stuffs including mealie-meal, bread and money. They are said to be charging as low as $1 for sex from their clients, most of them government officials distributing aid, police officers and cane cutters who work at a nearby sugar plantation owned by Tongaat Hullet.
Parents are scared that their children could succumb to HIV/Aids and other sexually transmitted diseases.
"The girls are too young to be doing this and I do not think they are clever and strong enough to force these older men to use protection," said Stella Chikowore a parent at the camp who added that they had since learnt of various types of STIs which had infected several young girls.
Although Masvingo Provincial Affairs minister, Kudakwashe Bhasikiti refused to comment accusing the media of targeting him, National Aids Council (Nac) last week announced that 210 cases of STI had been reported so far at the camp particularly gonorrhoea and syphilis.
The outbreak was said to be worsening because non-governmental organisations that had been assisting with sex education withdrew their services under unclear circumstances.
The villagers, however, pleaded for enough food aid from government and other well-wishers before their children succumb to HIV/Aids due to continued STI infections.
"We need urgent help from government, it must assist us with enough food for our families so that our kids stop commercialising their bodies at this young age," said Mudyanembwa. Mudyanembwa, however, said some relief was brought last week by World Food Programe (WFP) that launched a scheme to provide the families with 800 tonnes of grain for the next four months but it is still not enough for the people there.
The 20 000 people at the camp, according to government require 123 000 tonnes of grain/maize per month and the WFP relief falls far short to feed the villagers sufficiently, hence prostitution for the girl child continues to rise.