#SeeMyAfrica - The headlights of Harare sex work


A customer negotiates with a commercial sex worker in Harare's Avenues neighbourhood. PIC: FUNGAI TICHAWANGANA | FUNGAIFOTO


If you live anywhere else in Zimbabwe, it's easy to pretend that there isn't a big market for commercial sex, or that it's a small issue, but if you live right in the middle of The Avenues, the capital city's de facto red light district, it hits you in the face over and over again, usually in the form of a bright light.

Most of the street lamps have long stopped working, but it's the headlights that remind you.  The headlights, always on beam, that keep these dark streets alight way into the wee hours of the night. 

Headlights and brake lights. PIC: FUNGAI TICHAWANGANA | FUNGAIFOTO

In the evenings, particularly weekends and month ends,  the women start coming out, populating the dark and not so dark corners of this neighbourhood on the periphery of Harare's CBD.  The headlights crawl past them over and over again; searching, examining, beaming greedily over every inch of exposed skin. 

Till a target is identified. Then the brake lights come on.  Bright red. Bright bright red. Stop.  Negotiations. Sometimes they take off, brake and headlights, with an empty passenger seat, but most times, the interior light comes on, as a door opens to let exposed thighs and arms and hair extensions in. Interior light goes off. Brake lights go off.  A deal in the making goes off into the night.


A car stops at a corner where a number of street kids, a security guard, a sex worker and an airtime vendor huddle around a fire. The vendor and the sex worker approach, hoping that this means business for one of them. A customer negotiates with a commercial sex worker in Harare's Avenues neighbourhood. PIC: FUNGAI TICHAWANGANA | FUNGAIFOTO

But those headlights. They are always on. Always searching. Never satisfied. 


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