The Constitutional Court last Wednesday outlawed the arrest of sex workers found loitering on the streets “for purposes of prostitution”.
There can be no doubt the judgement, read by Deputy Chief Justice Luke Malaba, goes a long way in promoting women’s fundamental rights to protection under the law.
Over the past years, women’s right to freedom of movement has been seriously violated by overzealous police officers who arrested those found walking or standing at street corners at night.
Many innocent women have harrowing tales of being force-marched by the officers to police station lumped together with sex workers, after they were arrested while going about their business at night.
In many cases, they opted to pay admission of guilt fines rather than risk sleeping in the filthy cells and being paraded before the courts the following morning charged with engaging in prostitution.
Such a practice was not only illegal and discriminatory, but was uncalled for in this day and age when men and women are supposed to be equal before the law.
It is however sad to realise that there are some elements who think that the Constitutional Court has legalised prostitution and these people were holding parties last week. Some prostitutes went as far as publicly inviting their clients for free sexual orgies in Harare.
This behaviour is clearly uncalled for, and proves that the judgement has the potential to open floodgates to immorality.
While prostitutes have tended to look for clients in the dimly-lit avenues areas at night, they will now move right into the centre of town, fully aware that they can no longer be arrested.
An influx of sex workers and men seeking their services will result in high moral decadence, resulting in a rise in STI and HIV infections.
In light of this, it is imperative for government to come up with means and ways to fight prostitution without unfairly targeting women.
Prostitution is something that cannot be tolerated in our society and the National Aids Council and other organisations should also step up campaigns against the practice before our entire cities are turned into red light districts.