Poverty forces young girls into prostitution because any girl can do it with the basic assets that they already possess, without having any business plan, says NAREP president Elias Chipimo.

And Chipimo says majority of Zambian citizens are barely making enough money to survive.

Speaking on 5Fm’s Kambani Radio programme where he promotes his party’s Twenty Percent Generation Plan (TiPanGeni) every Wednesday, Chipimo said the number of young girls getting into prostitution was alarming.

“The very first programme we had here, Grace, we featured a 13-year-old prostitute. This young girl got into the profession when she was barely 12 years old. Fortunately, she is now being rehabilitated but she was earning sometimes K400 a month. Her own mother is a maid who washes clothes for different people in the community so sometimes she might earn K400, sometimes you can imagine, in one month, her mother is earning less than this girl, working as a commercial sex worker, was earning in a night. I was so alarmed and appalled by this that as I looked into her story and spoke to the NGO that is helping to rehabilitate these young girls, spoke to other people working in Tasintha and other NGOs that are trying to support vulnerable individuals like these young women, it opens up such a can of worms. The age of 12 is not unique to this young girl, this is standard entry age. There are girls as young as nine,10 offering up some kind of illicit, immoral service,” Chipimo said.

“Why is it that this is going on? Well, if you look at an issue like prostitution, it doesn’t require a degree, it doesn’t require a business plan, there is a ready market, the basic assets pretty much every young girl possesses. And so they venture out into this activity. It is not that there is no prostitution in other parts of the world or commercial sex work, it is the widespread nature of this, it has now become absolutely normal. It is no longer considered abnormal and with that, you get the story of blessers, we ran a programme on blessers and many young girls in college or going through tertiary institutions or just trying to get a basic education, trying to improve their skills and qualification they have to pay somebody and from that payment it becomes other things, ‘pay for my hair piece, my shoes, pay for my clothes’. It is now a cancer in our society and we call ourselves a Christian nation but we are turning a blind eye to these issues.”

He explained that the TiPanGeni programme was creating hope for young men and women wh9o were trapped in a cycle of poverty.

“Tipangeni is creating an opportunity for young men and women, for vulnerable individuals, whether they be men or women in society, anyone that is struggling to find a job anyone that is trying to put food on the table on a daily basis, to give them a stable income and at the same time training and capacity development to the highest standards possible and we want to do this by putting pressure on the government to pass a law and to change the policy so that 20 per cent of all government and public procurement contracts are allocated to these groups, not as individuals but through institutions which they will be attending on a daily basis so that their training is part of a supply on a government contract,” Chipimo said.

“This is a very unique system. It has not been done the way in which we have proposed it be structured anywhere in the world but the principles of how it is applied, there are examples of this everywhere in the world and we want to introduce this as an entrepreneurial project right at the primary school level so that even those young people who are leaving school at grade nine or grade seven, or those young girls who are getting pregnant will have some hope and some opportunity. You will get rid of the street vending, delinquency, all these young people who are sitting in bars, as we speak now, the rates of abortion are extremely high! Tipangeni can build skills and give people back their dignity and help us to address the rot of corruption that has now become so standard in this country. And I want to make a very strong statement about what I believe those right thinking leaders within our government should be doing.”

And Chipimo said majority of Zambian citizens were barely making enough money to survive.

“Africa, by the year 2100 will have the largest number of children anywhere in the world. When we say children, we mean 0-17 years. By 2050, the number 25 year olds will be the most in Africa than any other region. Right now, we narrow it down to Zambia and it is typical of any other countries across the continent, we have 400,000 young people coming to the job market every single year. Now our civil service is barely the size of civil service employees so we can imagine that every year, a new civil service is coming onto the job market looking for jobs, we have a serious crisis.

We also have to look at the statistics of schools, how many young people are making it to school every year? The total number of schools can be about 8-9,000 but only 10 per cent of those are secondary schools…we also need to ask what are the recreational facilities? Especially in the rural communities? People are falling into a daily survival routine. That’s why we have vendors on the streets because everyday they have got to make something in order to take something home, for their basic needs and not for anything which they want,” said Chipimo.

“TiPanGeni is really trying to address the widespread nature of these challenges, these social outcomes from the deep poverty which has become chronic, it’s become multi generational poverty. The poverty started from the grandmother, it is going all the way through to the grand children.
We would like to create a movement from every single stakeholder in this country. It doesn’t matter which political party you belong to, it doesn’t matter which NGO you serve, it doesn’t matter which entity you work for in the private sector or whether you work in government. This is something that everybody is suffering, from some of these social outcomes.”