RWANDA, March 11- TO BE called a ‘prostitute’ is among the worst epithets a woman can receive. It undermines the very essence of a woman’s greatest value, her reproductive abilities and strips her of dignity or what is familiarly known as ‘Agaciro’ (dignity).
In Rwanda, Article 221 of the Penal Code stipulates that, “Any person who practices the profession of prostitution shall be liable for a term of imprisonment ranging from six months to three years and a fine ranging from fifty thousand to five hundred thousand Rwanda Francs.”
Figures show that there are about 15,792 known female sex workers countrywide.
In October 2012, parliamentarians decided that regardless of their criminal histories, they needed protection following the deaths of over 18 sex workers last August. Sadly, according to Tacienne Mukyabakazi, a sex worker who plies her trade in Gatsata, things have not changed very much. “Prostitutes are still facing the same dangers,” she says.
‘‘But we are not as naïve as they were last year. We conduct personal security amongst ourselves. All of us girls know who has slept with what man and where. We do not want to lose any more girls, those we lost are enough,” she continues.
“Sometimes, due to the general lack of money, the girls use bushes and the backs of restaurants for business.
‘‘Those are the ones who face the most danger, because there we cannot determine whom they have gone with. Most times those girls end up bloody and bruised as the clients know there is no one within hearing distance in case the girl decides to call for help”, she narrates.
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