Women in small-scale mining communities in Bindura, Mashonaland Central have ventured into prostitution for survival as the sector has been ravaged by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The Institute for Young Women's Development representative Constance Mushayi confirmed many teen mothers in areas such as Foothill and Benridge have resorted to sex work after they were excluded from government-run social safety net programmes.
"Women in small-scale artisanal mining communities are now engaging into sex work due to Covid-19 induced poverty. The challenge is that we have more teen mothers who were relying on mining activities but due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the sector is under performing.
"The situation has been worsened by the fact that these teen mothers have been excluded from social safety net programmes by the government and they have remained vulnerable to economic woes," said Mushayi during a virtual meeting convened by Green Governance Zimbabwe Trust (GGZT).
She implored the government to support the women with social safety nets as well as availing relevant information about Covid-19.
"Covid-19 has led to significant loss of income in areas such as Bindura because local business is supported by mining activities. The demolition of the flea markets has also worsened the plight of over 400 families who rely on selling their goods to miners," said Mushayi.
Due to lack of transport and movement restrictions, she said, most local women have not been able to restock their businesses while those employed in mines have been told to go on forced leave.
"Mines have downsized due to Covid-19 pandemic. Artisanal mining is a major source of employment in Mashonaland Central with women constituting around 30 to 50% of the total workforce.
"Women have primarily been involved in crushing, sluicing, washing, panning, sieving, and sorting and in some occasions, actual mining. Women have been very active in the provision of goods and services at the mining for example food and drinks and sales of artisanal mining equipment such as sieves, flash lights to mention but a few," Mushayi.
She added Covid-19 had also led to a surge in vices such as domestic violence, corruption and crime in areas such as Shava, Matepatepa and Mazowe.
Source: New Zimbabwe