When Anna was 16, her single mum passed away, leaving Anna to care for her two younger siblings. Her mum, a domestic worker in one of Harare’s suburbs, rented 2 backrooms in a township where she lived with all her kids.
At the time of her mum’s passing, Anna was doing fairly well in Grade 11. Suddenly, she was forced to fend for her younger siblings, school work falling to the wayside. In Grade 12, she became the ‘girlfriend’ of an older cross-border truck driver. For a while, this seemed like a solution, the trucker would bring her groceries and money, allowing Anna to provide for her 2 younger siblings.
Two months before her Matric exams, the trucker told her he wanted them to travel to South Africa to do some shopping, returning within four days. Anna, who had never left Zimbabwe, was very happy to go despite not having a passport. When they got to Johannesburg, her boyfriend told her that he was leaving her at his friend’s house so he could pick up a load in Durban. He said they would go shopping when he got back. That was the last time Anna saw him…
This was only the beginning of the nightmare that was Anna’s reality. She was mistreated by the couple she was left with and forced to sleep in a room under construction. At night, the husband would enter Anna’s room to rape her. The couple started driving Anna to different venues where men were waiting to sleep with her. She was a sex slave, providing the couple with income. They bought high heels, skimpy clothing, make up and wigs for Anna, transforming her to something more marketable.
Eventually, Anna befriended a woman from the brothel where she often met her clients who helped Anna to escape her pimps to establish herself as an ‘independent working girl.’
By this time, Anna had racked up a list of trauma including multiple rapes by her host, anger towards the boyfriend who had left her, and anxiety over the well-being of her siblings. These emotions made her turn to alcohol to numb the pain. A few months later she fell ill and was diagnosed HIV positive.
While Anna profoundly desired to exit prostitution, she was also tied to it; her closest relations were part of it and she was terrified of life outside of prostitution. Afraid of their judgments, especially if they found out about her horrific past, she couldn’t return to her family. Moreover, she didn’t know how to sustain her lifestyle without prostitution. Anna loathed the idea of searching for a job and being asked what she had been doing the past 4 years. Turning further to alcohol, she would sometimes forget to take her HIV medication.
Anna’s health deteriorated rapidly, landing her in the hospital with only one occasional visitor.
Lonely and despondent, a hospital staffer told Anna about Vheneka.
She is now on the road to recovery with the support of her new family. Through the support from Vheneka, Anna is mending her relationship with her siblings and extended family, receiving psycho-social support and attends skills development classes.
We would like to help more who, like Anna, may be struggling to unshackle themselves from the chains of prostitution and trafficking.
Help us help more women.