By CHARLES TJATINDI
Several girls in Namibia are reportedly turning to commercial sex industry to fend for their basic needs.
And, of all the people, it is their parents who are their accomplices in the girls' deviant ways.
The parents are allegedly offering their children to older men for sex in order to get money in return.
Africa Review caught up with a few of the children, aged between 15 to 16 years, most of who revealed that they had been in the industry for more than three years.
Some of them dropped out of school due to lack of fees, and have opted for the 'trade' on a full-time basis.
Africa Review learnt that students at some schools were also involved in the business during weekends and holidays to supplement their pocket money.
The sex trade
The real names of sex workers interviewed were withheld to protect their identities.
Alma, a 16-year-old from the southern region related how she juggled her schoolwork with life on the streets. She noted that the main reason she got involved in the sex trade was because she wants to have pocket money for basic toiletries and other things, which she needs while at school.
"You see other kids wearing nice jeans, they look so nice. I also want to look good like them,'' she said.
Monalisa, a friend of Alma's is another student involved in the sex trade. She left school last year, and was now in the business on a full-time basis.
She says she had to choose between living an impoverished life while attending school, or taking to the streets for a "better life". Eventually, the streets won.
"Life on the streets is not always good … sleeping with all those men. But I need the money … it's good to have the money in your hands afterwards," she notes.
According to sources, parents from impoverished informal settlements in Windhoek and other towns were mostly to blame for sending girls out to fend for themselves.
One girl said her stepfather, who wanted to defile her after her mother’s death, forced her into prostitution.
"I went to live with friends. As I needed an income, they taught me how to do 'business' on the streets,” she said.
The practice is said to be especially rife in the south of Namibia, where the frequency of trucks passing the small towns provide a fertile ground for prostitution.
Truck drivers on transit offer cash to these girls in exchange for sex, something that they never shake off once they get involved.
Although Namibia has enshrined in her constitution to protect the right of the child to education, proper and adequate housing, amongst others; there was no specific mention of prostitution or illegal sex trade.
Namibia is, however, party to a number of conventions prohibiting child molestation and unethical treatment of children.
Namibia ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child on September 30, 1990, and has undertaken to protect children against all forms of sexual exploitation and sexual abuse.