Disgraced senator Lilian Mpofu Timveos has stirred a hornet’s nest after she launched a campaign to have prostitution and homosexuality legalized in Zimbabwe, claiming this could stem the tide of AIDS.
The senator, whose Whatsapp sex chats with a married Nigerian 419 fraudster shocked the world, recycled the discredited argument that legalizing prostitution would help sex workers get access to treatment and care. This has, however, been dismissed by prostitutes and experts who say the government should create conditions for them to get ‘proper jobs’, not sex work where they endure abuse, alienation, violence, unplanned pregnancies, rampant infection, life-long guilt and early death.
“Does Mpofu Timveos want to become a licensed prostitute herself? Would she want her daughters to become prostitutes? No. Why then does she want the daughters of other women, mothers like herself, to become prostitutes? We want proper jobs and the more time our MPs spend thinking about getting us paid work the better,” said Chantelle, a prostitute living with AIDS and member of the activist group Positive Vibrations.
Gender activist Kate Nhema of the Women’s Circle said legalizing prostitution alone would not solve the problems of infection, stigma and discrimination.
“What Timveos is neglecting is that a very large number of women engaging in prostitution are either married or living with a man. Even the singles have relatives and can’t just hang a prostitution licence in their home and expect society to accept them as ‘workers’. It’s a tired argument that was started in the 1980s by the likes of Everjoice Win and has been taken up by some inconsiderate MDC-T MPs like Tabitha Khumalo. Legalize prostitution, then what? Tell the women whose husbands are being snatched by prostitutes and being infected with STIs and HIV in their homes that everything is okay because the prostitutes taking their husbands have licences? Timveos and other government officials should be working hard to stabilize the economy and ensure these women are properly employed, not to confuse the issue by demanding licences for prostitutes who will not take them up anyway,” Nhema told Now Daily.
Mpofu Timveos was appointed chairperson of the HIV/AIDS thematic committee in 2013 after disclosing that she and her husband were HIV positive. However, her controversial views, ‘ignorance’ and adultery scandals have riled fellow MPs who now want her removed.
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