Although he is happily married with three children, Samson (not his real name), a 41-year-old successful lawyer in Harare, every Friday as the day gives away to darkness, it is indeed his routine to slowly drive his latest Toyota V8 Landcruiser around Harare’s Avenues Area.
He seems to be in search of something and suddenly he stops and starts flashing the hazard lights beckoning a young woman, barely out of puberty, dressed in a tight shiny black skirt that exposes her brown thighs. The young woman, who has been standing by the roadside in the popular area, is waiting for unknown clients and the arrival of Samson is indeed an answer to her prayers.
Within a minute the big vehicle roars off, and people who see them thereafter mistake the two as a married couple. Those who see the two cannot guess that it was only a matter of negotiating to start the ever short relationship, which in most cases lasts for a few minutes or one night.
This is not only Samson’s way of life, but the number of married men who take to prostitutes is ever increasing instead of going down. Despite the effects of the deadly HIV and Aids pandemic, men are still interested in the “ladies of the night” and the question, therefore, is: Why do men go for prostitutes?
A survey conducted by Lifestyle in the popular Avenues area and other red light zones in the capital revealed that most men who were interviewed had the same thing in mind.
“It is only about emotional struggle. The relationship is clearly based on sex, not anything else. It is not like having trouble trying to convince your wife or girlfriend to have sex, but with prostitutes it is very easy. Sex is not negotiated, only the price,” said one man who identified himself as Tinashe.
Another man who refused to be identified echoed the same sentiments and added that prostitutes give one value for money.
“When I am with a sex worker, there is no pressure. It does not matter whether she had a bad day or I had a bad day either, sex is guaranteed and as long as I pay for the service, I am assured of satisfaction. But it is a different tune with your wife or spouse. If she is tired or she had a bad day, she will not help you at all even if you need sexual intercourse badly,” he said.
However, another married man in his mid 40s, who identified himself as Barnabas Chikuku, revealed that he opted for ladies of the night because of a domestic problem.
“My wife of 13 years is no longer interested in sex. We can go for two weeks without sexual intercourse and I cannot bear it at all. I had no option, but to try the ladies of the night who proved to be efficient and indeed a solution to my problem,” he said.
Chikuku added that he is still married and will never leave his wife.
“I am still with my wife. It is not that we are enemies, but it is only that she is no longer interested in having sex like before and she has a right to deny me whenever she thinks so. She is my partner and I cannot sit down with a prostitute, have a cup of tea and discuss my family, it is just sex,” he said.
Local sociologist Dennis Zondi said most men engage prostitutes for various reasons.
“There are a number of reasons why men engage prostitutes, and most of these women are young, beautiful and smart. Few men can run away from these characteristics. Remember the sex workers know what men want and they capitalise on that. The other thing is, these ladies provide what men want at that time and they do not question or get angry, but rather lead the act with flashes of smiles which most men cannot get from their spouses. Prostitutes give attention at the right time,” he said.
Meanwhile, most men who do buy sex revealed how they fear the deadly HIV pandemic.
“I know there is HIV and Aids and at first I was scared of it until I learnt that most commercial sex workers use protection. Modern sex workers also fear for their lives and they now use protection and that keeps me going,” said a man who refused to be named.
A self-confessed prostitute who identified herself only as Mandy said they have all the skills that lure men to them.
“I do not complain or criticize a client even if he is bad in bed, rather we offer emotional and sexual safety. What I know is that sex to men is like what hair is to women. Most men are constantly rejected and rebuked by their wives and this affects their ego. When these men visit me, I make them feel special and make them happy and this is business,” she said.
However, most commercial sex workers interviewed said the oldest profession is a risky business. Besides the Aids pandemic, of late there have been cases of prostitutes being murdered.
“I have two children that need to be taken care of and I risk my life for them to survive,” said one woman.
According to a research published in 2009, it was found that the numbers of men who pay for sex had doubled in a decade. The authors attributed this rise to “a greater acceptability of commercial sexual contact”.