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New report reveals brothels

 The Big Issue Malawi 03 June 2019

(Originally published: 08/2009) A recent survey National Aids Commission (NAC) conducted to assess risk practices and sites in urban areas has revealed existence of brothels operating illegally in some parts of Malawi, a development which the commission says would contribute towards spreading and maintaining HIV infection in the country. Philip Pemba reports on the very real dangers and health hazards inherent in Malawi’s cities and represented in the survey’s worrying findings. (603 words) - By Phillip Pemba

A recent survey National Aids Commission (NAC) conducted to assess risk practices and sites in urban areas has revealed existence of brothels operating illegally in some parts of Malawi, a development which the commission says would contribute towards spreading and maintaining HIV infection in the country.

The survey, whose findings were presented to journalists in Blantyre, was carried out in Blantyre and Lilongwe in 2006.

In his presentation of the survey findings to journalists, NAC research officer Blackson Matatiyo said there are two brothels operating in the Capital City of Lilongwe at Chigwirizano; one in the country's commercial capital Blantyre at Lunzu and another one in Nsanje which is in the Southern part.

"Brothels exist both in Lilongwe and Blantyre and these are usually located within housing locations making them difficult to identify so easily. Very young girls serve in these brothels," reads the report of the survey in part.

Asked to explain how owners of the brothels conduct their business, Matatiyo said the activity is clandestine and only meant to sell sex.

"What goes on in the brothels is that people go for sex. The girls are behind in the rooms and somebody talks to you and shows you the pictures of the girls. You choose the one you are interested in and get the charge.

"Then you are given the room number for the girl. If she is engaged with another person, you wait until your turn comes," said Matatiyo.

He said the places are high risk areas, worrying at the moment there are no HIV/Aids interventions in sites.

"It is difficult to locate the brothels because they are not operating their business as brothels. They only do business at night. We need to design specific interventions to address this problem," said Matatiyo, appealing to all stakeholders in the fight against HIV/Aids to share responsibility on the issue.

The survey verified a total of 520 risky sites: 254 in Lilongwe and 266 in Blantyre, with patrons in 86 percent of the sites consuming beer and more than 77 percent of the sites being places where men and women meet new sexual partners.

"Alcohol consumption deteriorates one's thinking and judgement; hence it becomes difficult to avoid sexual practices. There are no condoms in most hotels where our leaders sleep. This means our managers are at risk because it is difficult for them to queue up at a filling station for a condom," he said.

He further said there is low availability of condoms in most sites, saying only half of the sites reported having condoms available for the patrons.

According to the report, 23 percent of the sites never had condoms and for those with condoms the larger supply was for commercially distributed condoms than free ones.

The survey also revealed that bottle stores, night clubs and rest houses dominate the list of sites where men, women and youth go to meet new sexual partners.

 Most female patrons in the sites are divorcees, widows, women separated from their matrimonial homes and those who have never married before, according to the report which identifies the age of the youngest female patron as 15.

 "More than (66 out of every 100) female patrons visit the sites primarily in search for sexual partners whereas among male patrons, a combination of factors make them visit the sites," reads the report in part.

 The research findings attribute HIV transmission in Lilongwe and Blantyre to high levels of poverty, unemployment, rising number of orphans, negligence, high levels of promiscuity and limited access to information on prevention of sexually transmitted infection among others.

 

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