I attended a function last night which finished just after 9pm. I asked a friend to take me home and he graciously agreed but had to drop someone else in the Avenues first. It’s been a long time since I was in this part of town at night and I was stunned by what I saw.
Coming out of town, we turned off Samora Machel, left into 6th Street and there in the full glare of the headlamps were three half naked women. Mico micro minis and minimalistic tops. They moved closer towards the road when they saw the car. I had just barely finished digesting the sight, when I saw another woman in the smallest pair of shorts I have ever seen, then two more, then another.
So many of them. I was in a state of shock. Was it really this bad?
“Bacossi,” Said my friend jokingly- but I could not laugh. These were young women like me, some even younger.
Then I remembered a scene from “Country of My Skull” (which stars Samuel L Jackson) where this guy who committed atrocities during the aparthied era in South Africa is accosted by his sister who is asking him how he could have done such horrendous things. His response, paraphrased, is: “Don’t pretend you don’t know that these things were happening. Seated in the comfort of your home, enjoying the fruits of our hard work, you chose not to see.”
So in the same way I started thinking that I knew all along. With the poverty that’s in Zimbabwe right now it has to be obvious that more women than ever are out there selling their bodies to make ends meet. And all of us know.
When we had dropped of the person who lived in the Avenues, I asked my friend to drive in the Avenues a bit longer so that I could see how many more women there were. It’s as if I felt like I owed them something and just seeing them there was acknowledging their tough situation.
He gave me a strange look but I said a really long “please” and we went down Chinamano all the way from 6th Street to Rotten Row. That’s at least 8 blocks and for the length of what must have been the most painful drive on that road for me ever I saw women trying to outdo each other to get the attention of our headlights, some nervously clutching handbags, others doing little dances to show what they were capable of and others striking poses meant to make one step on the brakes and stop the car.
My friend turned the car down Rotten Row and in a sad silence that no words could make happier, drove me home.