Girls as young as 12 in the country's HIV hot spots are selling sex for empty beer bottles, a research done by a local children's rights lobby organization has revealed.
Most of these girls have been forced into sex work by either the death of their parents or poverty, according to the Zimbabwe National Council for the Welfare of Children (ZNCWC).
According to ZNCWC, children in places like Epworth in Harare and Ngundu along Beitbridge road have neither safe sex knowledge nor negotiating skills.
Titled "Young Women in Commercial Sexual Exploitation along Two Transport Corridors in Zimbabwe: Causes, Initiation, Prevalence and Use of HIV and Social Services", the project sampled 300 girls who are engaging in sex work in Zimbabwe's HIV hot spots.
The research was commissioned last year in November and the results were released recently in Harare.
Presenting the results of the study, in Harare recently, Maxim Murungweni, a senior official with ZNCWC, said it was pathetic to learn that these desperate young girls were given empty bottles as payment for sexual services they would have rendered to their clients.
"Can you imagine that some of the girls we interviewed during the study told us that they were given some empty beer or soft drink bottles as payment, which they would then sell for less than $0.50 cents each," he said.
"Although the majority of them reported being paid cash for providing their services some told us that they were paid in kind with the other items of payment other than bottles being, used blankets, clothes and even food," said Murungweni.
He said the highest amount these young sex workers were getting per day was $16.