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Date: Sat, 2 May 98 18"17"51 CDT
From: rich@pencil.math.missouri.edu (Rich Winkel)
Organization: PACH
Subject: TANZANIA" Children Drawn Into Sex Trade
Article: 33905
Message-ID: <bulk.15373.19980503121704@chumbly.math.missouri.edu>

/** ips.english: 482.0 **/
** Topic: RIGHTS-TANZANIA" Children Drawn Into Sex Trade **
** Written 3: PM Apr 30, 1998 by newsdesk in cdp:ips.english **

Children Drawn Into Sex Trade

By Alakok Mayombo, IPS, 27 April 1998

DAR ES SALAAM, Apr 27 (IPS) - Poverty and sexual abuse in the home are among some of the factors driving more and more Tanzanian children into the sex trade.

Research conducted by the Tanzania Media Women Association (TAMWA) in three regions of the country indicates that girls as young as nine are engaged in commercial sex. According to Leila Sheihk, TAMWA's director, the majority of the children are forced into prostitution to support themselves and their impoverished families.

Fifteen-year-old Olive who came to the capital city Dar es Salaam five years ago, says she became a prostitute when she was 12 to supplement her mother's income from begging for the family of four.

Now the young girl is pregnant and can no longer earn money like she used to. "My mother is bitter, because I am pregnant and I don't get customers any more," she says.

TAMWA's research into the regions of Arusha, Dar es Salaam and Singida last year revealed that there were at least 800 boy and girl prostitutes in these regions alone. The young children earn between one to five U.S. Dollars, and tourists are increasingly becoming their clients.

According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), more than 100 million children worldwide are commercial sex workers.

Health indicators also show that as prostitution increases in this East African nation, the rate of transmission of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) among the young is becoming higher. According to the World Bank, 400,000 new HIV infections occur in Tanzania every year, and it projects a cumulative total of 1.6 million cases of the Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome by the year 2010.

Many of the children work alone on the streets in major towns, but some have been forced to work in privately-owned, illegal brothels where they are poorly paid. Fifteen year old Hamisa Malinda says she worked in a brothel until she realised that the owner received 30 U.S. Dollars per client, while she was only paid four dollars.

Human rights and other activist groups have been pushing for stiffer punishment for those who engage in sex with children. On prostitution, however, Tanzanian law is silent.

A proposed law, the Sex Offences Act of 1998, which carries stiffer penalties for child abusers, is currently before the Tanzanian parliament. Under the proposed Bill, it will be an offence to have sex with a girl under the age of 18 unless she is one's wife.

Prostitutes have generally be rounded up for loitering under the Human Resources and Deployment Act of 1984. Those arrested are taken by the government to their village homes. But, after a few weeks, they return to the towns and to commercial sex.

According to TAMWA unless the government tackles the growing poverty in the country, more and more children will be drawn into the sex trade.

Many girls leave the villages to work as housemaids in towns, but later quit the low-paying job, hoping to earn more money in prostitution. Young boys, on the other hand, work as labourers in Tanzanian mining pits and are sold to whoever needs their services.

A large majority of Tanzanian children also end their education with primary school, leaving them with very few options in the labour market. Every year, according to official estimates, more than 300,000 pupils complete primary education in Tanzania, but only one percent are selected to enter government secondary schools and few can afford private schooling.

Sheihk of TAMWA says her organisation is working on a strategy to establish community-based programmes to rehabilitate children who have become involved in the sex trade.