The Herald (Harare)

Zimbabwe: When Your Mother Is a Sex Worker . . .

AT midnight, lightning streaks above Epworth, on the outskirts of Harare, preceding a roaring clap of thunder that shakes a metal cabin and wakes up three-month-old baby Natsai from slumber.

The dazzling light getting through slits on piles of corrugated metals that have been heaped to provide shelter for Natsai and her mother, causes a panic of terror to this young and innocent baby, then, she breaks into a whimpering cry.

Frightened by the rumbling noise of the thunder also, Natsai cracks a faint cry that is much a yell for help as she does without her mother for the better part of the night and, just to add hell on her, the rain that is downpouring on the roof of the ramshackle cabin is also dripping straight to her crib.

Natsai cries in solitude while, instinctively, hoping to be rescued by the warmth of her mother's arms but her wishes remain elusive for hours until the mother comes home in the wee hours in the arms of a man for that day.

Such is a tear-drawing life that subsists between commercial sex workers and their tender babies as they hop from one night spot to another for prospective clients for the day. While she dances sensually in clubs, throwing arms around different men, back home, her feeble young baby will be yelling for the warmth of those arms - what a hell for the baby.

Naturally, mothers do, by God's granting, possess a gentle caressing touch to their babies that soothe with fingers and arms that snuggle the baby's body close against the warmth of their bodies and the baby gets eclipsed in that childish deep and peaceful sleep.

Alas!, not for a baby born to a sex worker, the life of his or her body always yearn for that motherly gentle care that usually departs with each night coming.

Nights are spent with mother enjoying the climax of joy in pubs on one end while the baby yelps and whimpers unceasingly at home.

Bothwell Nyakude, who was raised by a mother who was into sex work puts it graphically when he says: "It is really an absurd situation. I may not remember what actually happened when I was a baby but I can't rule out that my mother once left me alone in the house while she went out for men.

"All I can recall is that as a young boy my mother would come back home late with a man and sleep in bed while I was on the floor, it really got onto my nerves.

"I always had this thought of wanting to fight these men but I could not do that because I was still under the care of my mother. She was the one who was paying for my school fees", he said.

He added the consequences of his natural resentment of what his mother made him to go through, he said "eventually I ran out of home while still in Form Two and began airtime vending after I got fed up seeing all these different men coming to my mother's place".

"For all those young people who are in the same situation, I genuinely feel for them because I know what they are going through is hard," he said.

The Herald also talked to one commercial sex worker Mandyy kaNcube (not real name) who professed that sew work and motherhood were two worlds difficult to juggle. Sometimes situations force you to leave the baby, either in the custody of another person or by itself, during the night because if you don't go out you won't make money.

"Our business is just like any other business in which people are self-employed, when you are not present at work nothing moves.

"I used to break into tears as I remembered my child while I was taken away by a man and never returned home, knowing that he would be hungry while I enjoyed with clients made my heart go heavy. Our job is tricky," she said.

Mothers, mostly are everyone's mutual dearest in life because of the important roles they play in raising their children. Their palms are the cradle of what all people grow to learn as love on earth and they are usually the last people to be there for their children against storms of whatever trouble.

These are the people with whom everyone will eternally share uncut emotional umbilical cord.

They are natural role models in most people's lives but, here it looks like a different situation with children raised by mothers engaged in sex work.

Surely, because these are children who are raised in a great fog of debauchery with little to admire in their mothers and are even also exposed to all sorts of abuses including the cruel advances for sex from their mothers' clients if they are girls.

Norah Spie, a media expert and socialite, regard mothers who engage in sex work as just like any other mother and thinks they are victims of fate.

"Women who become prostitutes are desperate and often abandoned by the fathers of their children; they know the risk of their profession.

"I do not think they are bad mothers at all but will, like any other woman do anything to protect and provide for their kids.

"I don't condone prostitution. I feel a woman can do other less risky occupations to earn an income," she said.

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