By Robert Tapfumaneyi
Harare’s sprawling Epworth township has more than 95 registered men who offer sex services to other men for a living.
This was said by gay and lesbian rights activist Precious Msindo, who is also coordinator of the Epworth based Spiring Of Life (SLZ) NGO.
Msindo said the density of male sex workers in Epworth alone was sign enough there were far many male sex workers in the country who were not too keen to come out in the open about their situation.
“Male sex workers are treated as social outcast and they now want to be called ‘dancers’, ‘ben ten’ or with a street lingo name ‘stress relievers’ and these are men who receive money or goods in exchange for sexual services and take it as their occupation,” she said.
She added, “They could be more as most do not want to come out in the open and they do not tell people what they do because of the stigma they face within the community.
“But one of the biggest challenges is limited access to public health institutions as they cannot afford to visit private hospitals for treatment where their privacy is respected.
“And also the income from their work has gone down as most of the clients now see sex as a luxury and not a necessity as they prefer to channel their money to basic needs of their families.”
The Epworth based organisation is now offering health services, lubricants anti-retroviral therapy (ART), sexual transmitted infections and treatment among other services to male sex workers.
In Epworth, according to Zimbabwe Poverty Altas report, residents live on less than a dollar a day and poverty prevalence is at about 63 percent.
The area is said to be contributing the highest number of informal traders who throng Harare’s central business district to trade in different wares daily.