Commercial sex workers took to the streets of Lilongwe yesterday and presented a petition to authorities protesting recently-effected public health guidelines, including a night curfew, to prevent spread of Covid-19.
The group presented its petition to Lilongwe City Council demanding more business hours for bars and social funds to mitigate the impact of the pandemic on their economic livelihoods.
Dressed in black T-shirts and carrying beautifully designed banners, the protesters walked and danced through the streets of the capital city carrying placards with messages for authorities.
Some of the banners read ‘Sex work is normal service’, ‘Apolisi ndi abale athu koma mwationjeza’ and ‘Apolisi lekani nkhaza’.
While earning a living from proceeds of prostitution is illegal in the country, police allowed the largely peaceful protest to continue without any arrests or major incidents.
Female Sex workers Association (FSA) executive director Zinenani Majawa said the group’s main plea was for government to allow bars and night clubs to open during weekdays from 2pm to midnight with all restrictions removed during weekends.
She said government should also consider financial bailout to the profession to alleviate the situation.
Another sex worker, who only identified herself as Jane and operates from Mugasa Bar in downtown Lilongwe, said their protest ahouls not be misconstrued that they do not care about the pandemic.
Said Jane: “Even when having sex, we are putting on masks; our clients and ourselves use sanitisers.
“Life has to continue, business has to continue because if we don’t die of Covid, we and our children will die of hunger.”
Lilongwe City Council chief administration officer Hudson Kumphanga, who received the petition, said it will be forwarded to the Office of the President and Cabinet for action.
The Presidential Task Force on Covid-19 ordered that bars, restaurants and other social places should be closed by 8pm besides a night curfew between 9pm and 5am as part of new guidelines to contain further spread of Covid-19.