INERELA+ Zimbabwe Equips Hopley Sex Workers With Professional And Entrepreneurial Skills

INERELA+ Zimbabwe Team with A Group of Sex Workers In Hopley, Harare South. 25 February 2023

INERELA+ Zimbabwe is affirming sex work in Harare South, bringing hope to the marginalised. The church is meant to be a safe space for everyone, no one is superior, we are all made in the image of God. A step into professionalism has been championed as work with a group of sex workers is taking off the ground. The success story of the psycho-social Sex Workers Support Group is a testament to the reality of setting change for the better for these affected and stigmatised communities.  Mark 9:50 says “Let peace be with you. There is a lot of peace in knowing your work. It’s even more thrilling if you are affirmed. I am happy to know that when I am doing sex, I am working. At my workplace safety comes first…” This is Natasha Matara’s story. Self-Care Sisters Psycho-Social Sex Workers Support Group in Harare South is a group of sex workers who have come to realise their value. These amazing women have taken a step forward in promoting professionalism in sex work. 

They are now aware that what they do is work and have systems in place to secure their progress. What is more interesting is their willingness to have sex as a sustaining business.  There will be challenges. Obstacles in sex work are rife as the provider and receiver relationship is built on trust. In most instances, the receiver reneges on the contractual agreement and flees. At times, the receiver becomes aggressive and abusive, placing the sex worker at risk. Globally, sex workers have been harmed or even killed in their line of duty. The HIV prevalence rate among sex workers in Zimbabwe is at 42.2% against a national rate of 14% (NAC Statistics, 2019)Globally, sex workers have a 55% to 75% chance of experiencing sexual violence on the job. (

Street workers are more likely to be at risk, most sex workers in Zimbabwe operate from the streets. It is with this in mind that sex workers invest more in their health and education so that they raise awareness among their folks to ensure that like any work, they operate in an enabling environment. Violence is the order of the day for most sex workers, and many have nothing to show for their toiling. Young sex workers, especially those born after the year 2000 focus on getting or attracting rich people and have sex with them as a way of getting rich. They do not know how to strengthen themselves and be able to be self-sufficient. Many of them are school dropouts, hence their education levels are low. They do not focus much on raising their standards, thinking they will be forever young. They lack self-care and client satisfaction, and neither do they know of using online bookings, skincare, and the need to sharpen their sexual skills. Like any work, one must keep improving, the sector is dynamic, and so is treatment when unwell, care, safety, and grooming. INERELA+ Zimbabwe realises the need to achieve the Hands-Off project outcome which states: An empowered and resilient sex worker movement that demands their rights.  In 2022 INERELA+ Zimbabwe conducted dialogues between Religious Leaders and Sex Workers in Harare and Chitungwiza. This resulted in a change in their attitude and behaviour towards sex work. In August 2022, we reached out to the sex worker’s Psycho-Social Sex Workers Support Group in Harare. We strengthened psycho-social support for victims of violence among sex workers.

With support from INERELA+ and Self Care Sisters Psycho-Social Sex Workers Support Group in Harare South, Natasha Matara managed to enrol for a Nurse Aide training course with Red Cross Zimbabwe. She further had a successful online course which brought her closer to various global peers in her sector. With her rising standard and her good work in promoting professionalism in sex work, Natasha managed to get a job in the United Kingdom. She has since travelled and now lives in the UK. Natasha hails the Self-Care Sisters Psycho-Social support group and INERELA+ Zimbabwe for all the support she got when she was vulnerable to violence related to sex work. She continues to connect with her sisters back home in Zimbabwe through peer support.

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