I believe that the debate on whether poverty is the key driver to sex work or not is as old as the profession itself. So many theories, counter -theories, arguments and counterarguments have been put forward on this issue by many scholars, social commentators and many other distinguished people in the society including you and me.
Adolescent girls are reportedly the ones who form the majority of sex workers not only in Malawi but in many other countries as well. It is said that this is a kind of work they do to earn an income in order to afford; fashionable clothes, descent meals and pay utility bills.
However, sex work is not a panacea for poverty hence this entry is an attempt to exhume the negative side effects of doing sex work but not, in any way, stigmatizing those who are involved in sex work activities.
Men calculatingly exploit young girls who are in dire need of support and they always take advantage of vulnerable children like orphaned girls. Once such vulnerable young girls are offered some money after the ordeal of sleeping with such heartless men, it is like a ‘Pandora Box’ has been opened. They simply fail to fathom the idea of ever sleeping on an empty stomach again; they feel that the time of taking a bath without soap and then get dressed in rugged clothes is over- to them it is a time to say bye to poverty.
As such, this entry only underscores the fact that education is a key to poverty eradication. The development of our country is, to a certain extent, retrogressing. What we need are educated young men and women to work in our factories, brilliant economists to turn around the tables, business administrators to change the status quo and what have you. The last thing Malawi needs, in her poverty eradication efforts, are high school dropout rates.
What follows when a young girl starts earning income by sleeping around with men? Your response is as good as mine; she may get STIs including HIV or an early pregnancy (with all or some of its attendant problems). She may also get both STIs and an early pregnancy. All these scenarios are very expensive than going to school. For instance, once she is impregnated by an unknown heartless man, she will only be left with another mouth to feed and another body to dress.
In consideration of the above points, escaping poverty should not entail dropping out of school in order to start sleeping around with men to earn a living. Whether sex workers are victims of Poverty or not…young girls should know that sex work is not a solution to their poverty but something that fuels the poverty.
Allow me to echo what Maganizo’s father once said in one of Malawian literature books; Education is like a root from a good medicine man, it never fails!