Windhoek-Prostitutes trading in the central business district (CBD) in Windhoek say the current economic slowdown has significantly reduced the number of clients they service in a single night.
Due to current economic constraints affecting, the sex workers say they only attend to a single client a week compared to peak times when they saw two or more clients a night.
This emerged on Friday night during a routine police patrol when 13 prostitutes – mostly from Zimbabwe and Zambia and one Namibian – were arrested. When asked how much they make, most of them complained that at times they go for many nights without a customer.
One of the sex workers, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said she usually makes around N$1,800 per night, but currently she barely makes N$750 a night.
She said since she does not ply her trade on a daily basis she makes an average of around N$9,000 a month.
The women were found behind and inside a local hotel in the CBD. None of the foreign sex-workers had any legal permit to be in Namibia and one had no passport at all.
The only Namibian sex worker, aged 34, who was dropped off at a shack she shares with her boyfriend in Havana, begged the police not to tell her boyfriend what she was found doing in town, as she told him she was employed at a hotel.
She usually leaves home with normal clothes on, but changes into skimpy, revealing outfits when she gets near her spot. When escorted home by the police she at first refused to reveal her address.
“Please meme, let me just go home. You will never see me (on the streets) again,” she pleaded with Nampol Khomas Community Affairs Inspector Christina van Dunem Fonsech and her team.
Fonsech had in fact warned her and other sex workers several times to get off the streets. The woman said she would be in even more trouble if her boyfriend found out that she is a sex worker. She said she got involved in sex work, as she had a debt of N$3,500 to pay off for Brazilian hair that she took on credit.
One of the Zimbabwean sex workers experienced a type of seizure shortly after her arrest. Her colleagues said she occasionally acts like that as she refuses to be a healer – which is apparently a calling from her ancestors.
The woman, who appeared dazed and confused, was dropped off in Dorado Valley, where she shares a two-bedroom flat with a fellow sex worker, who took out some black powder from her cupboard that she sniffed to appease her ancestors.
She then covered her head with a scarf and shoulder with a cloth and adorned herself with beads on her neck and wrists and ankles.
Her housemate, a 33-year-old, who prefers getting clients from a local hotel said the trade was slow, as she often goes for up to a week without a client.
She charges her clients, – mostly foreigners – U$100 or €100 per session.
The 33-year-old, who previously lived in Four Ways in Johannesburg in South Africa, said life became difficult after she got divorced from her Scottish husband.
“I went home (to Zimbabwe), but life is difficult. At my age I can’t rely on my parents. I heard stories about Namibia and I came here. I can’t do this in Joburg, where people knew me as a housewife,” she said, adding that this was not the life she planned to lead.
Another 42-year-old sex worker from Zimbabwe and mother of three said her husband died in 2008 and that she had little choice but to resort to sex work to take care of her children. When asked how much she makes, she said: ‘’Business is tough. There is no money. It’s not a comfortable life.”
Among them was a 43-year-old Zimbabwean, suffering from cervical cancer and heart problems. She said she sold sex, as her husband abandoned her and the children and got married to a South African woman.