By Veneranda Langa – NewsDay
28 May, 2015 – HARARE -Rights of sexual minority groups are being trampled upon, a recent baseline survey on perception, attitudes and understanding on human rights in Zimbabwe has revealed.
The survey produced by the Zimbabwe Human Rights Commission (ZHRC) said sex workers in nine provinces except Masvingo claimed they were not enjoying their rights.
In places like Karoi, where illegal panners and tobacco farmers are based, the research said sex workers ended up forming associations in a bid to protect their rights.
“In the nine provinces, except in Masvingo, it was widely acknowledged that the sex workers constitute sexual minorities and that they are not enjoying their human rights,” the ZHRC baseline survey report said.
“A certain female key informant in Manicaland remarked that ‘although some people castigate sex work openly, they support and encourag the industry by participating as clients’.”
It said sex workers wanted to enjoy rights, including being able to refuse sex without condoms
The sex workers were said to be fighting discrimination in light of the HIV pandemic so that they were able to protect themselves from sexually transmitted infections.
Other sexual minorities that were said to be complaining about non-enjoyment of their rights in the country included gays and lesbians.
“There is prevalence of hostility and systematic discrimination by police, politicians, community and family members against the gays and lesbians based on their sexual orientation,” the ZHRC report reads.
“The gays and lesbians desire no special rights, but room to enjoy the same rights in the Constitution just like anyone else.”
People living with HIV also complained about being discriminated against.
“The survey established that children who survived mother-to-child transmission are adolescents who discover their HIV sero-status (either having or not having detectable antibodies against a specific antigen) when they want to take up employment, scholarships and during pre-marital counselling sessions,” the ZHRC said.
“There were several incidences of stigma and discrimination where people living with HIV continue to be stigmatised as a result of disclosed HIV status.”