IMAGINE waking up early in the morning and discovering that your house has been broken into and your smart phone, which cost you a fortune, has been stolen. It could be that you have just finished loading groceries in the boot, only to find out that your car has been smashed and your laptop, which you are still paying for and contains vital information, is gone.

It may also be a situation in which children witness their mother being savagely bashed by their father over an issue they have not really understood. Yet another scenario may be that you are relaxing in a corner in the bar. You are sipping your favourite beer after a hard day’s work. A fight erupts in another corner and suddenly you find yourself soaked in beer after the patron who was hit falls all over you. The reason behind all this may be prostitution. You may be wondering where the link is. Let us see how.

Prostitution may simply be defined as having extra-marital sexual intercourse or other sexual conduct with another person for money or a reward.

Widely known as the world’s oldest profession, prostitution is a social vice and criminal act which also haunts many people in Zimbabwe, mainly indirectly as depicted by some of the situations cited above.

The Criminal Law (Codification and Reform) Act Chapter 9:23 criminalises persons who engage in extra-marital sexual intercourse for money or reward by soliciting, living off or facilitating prostitution, procuring and allowing children to become prostitutes.

Whilst prostitution is a crime on its own, it leads to a host of other challenges which negatively impact on many innocent persons.

Prostitution promotes public indecency

Due to competition for clients, female prostitutes resort to being scantily dressed in public in order to lure customers. Cases of female prostitutes publicly putting on bizarre mini-skirts which reveal what naturally should be covered in public have been recorded countrywide. Photographs of prostitutes who publicly stripped in front of approaching motorists have been splashed across newspapers some time back. In beer-drinking places, prostitutes do not think twice to utter unprintable words at the top of their voices when provoked or when a rival crosses their path. Some end up rendering services to their clients in alleys, around corners or in parked vehicles to which the public have access. Recently a couple was caught in the act outside a police beer outlet. This is all public indecency which is not only a social misdemeanour, but also a criminal act.

Prostitution fuels property crimes

Clients of prostitutes pay for the service rendered with money or other rewards, but mainly cash. When times are hard, money to be able to just buy beer may be hard to come by, what more to pay for the services of a prostitute? This leads to increase in property crimes as elements bent on prostitution resort to stealing cell phones, laptops, television sets, chickens, goats, cattle and even motor vehicles to have money for beer and for the prostitute. How many are stealing from their employers just to have the extra cash for some quality time? A close analysis of how criminals dispose of cash obtained from selling stolen property points to one major motive — pleasure. Such pleasure involves beer in the company of prostitutes. Definitely there are those who engage in both beer drinking and prostitution strictly through their hard-earned cash, but they are a minority. Prostitutes also have a tendency of stealing from their clients. Remember that man who lost his entire monthly salary to a lady of the night after a one-night ‘‘job’’? Fraudsters and car jackers are also big-time clients for prostitutes. Prostitution is associated with extravagance and often times such extravagance would have been realised through criminal acts.

Prostitution leads to violent crimes

Assault is a crime which may be perpetrated by anyone in any place, but statistics at most police stations indicate that the crime is common at beer outlets. There are varied reasons behind such assaults but mainly attributable to disputes between prostitutes or rival suitors. Robberies are also perpetrated by criminals who end up spending some of the cash obtained with prostitutes. Some people have lost their lives after engaging in nasty brawls caused by prostitution. Have you ever noticed how assaults are so prevalent in the city or town centre, at your nearest business centre and at the growth point? Prostitution has a big say in this.

Prostitution causes domestic violence

Cases of domestic violence are to a large extent attributable to prostitution. A married woman who finds out his beloved husband has been taken over by another woman from the neighbourhood or anywhere else will naturally vent her anger on her spouse. A married man who is taken to task by his wife over his shenanigans with women will most likely end up being violent on his wife physically, psychologically or economically. The conjugal rights of either party may also ultimately suffer as a result of extra-marital affairs. Children may also bear the brunt of domestic violence because of a prostituting parent.

So whatever opinion one might have on prostitution, the truth of the matter is that the contagion effects of this vice are many and varied, some of them leading to loss of life and limb, loss of property, breakdown of marriages and deterioration of public morals. So the next time you see police enforcing the law against prostitution, remember they may as well be indirectly protecting your valued property, safeguarding someone’s life or saving a marriage

Jonathan Chigede is a Chief Inspector in the Zimbabwe Republic Police and currently the Officer-In-Charge of Dangamvura Police Station.