Zomba sex workers protest against new Covid-19 guidelines



By Synd Kalimbuka

Sex workers in Zomba on Wednesday stormed Zomba City Council offices demanding that government should allow bars to operate from 8pm to 12 midnight.

Government through National Task force on Covid-19 gazetted new laws, one of them restricting bars to operate from 2pm to 8pm as one way to prevent and contain Covid-19 pandemic in the country.

According to one of the sex workers Gladys James, they propose to conduct their businesses from 8pm to 12 midnight saying this is where they meet more clients and make money for their survival.

“Our proposal is that the council should allow bars in the city to operate from evening to midnight so that our business sustains,”said Gladys.

She said currently sexworkers are struggling to feed their children and relatives because they are not making money anymore due to the time on bar operations as indicated in new Covid-19 guidelines.

“Most of our clients meet us from our proposed time of between 8pm to 12 midnight,” added one of them.

She added that those who depend on them on daily bread are also struggling because the guidelines to bar them from operating between 8pm to midnight has affected their businesses.

However, the group of sex workers admit that Covid-19 is real and promised to continue adhering to preventive measures.

They have since threatened to go in the street if government through Zomba city council don’t consider their proposal.

Spokesperson for Zomba city council Mercy Chaluma said the council has since advised them to put their concerns in writing and address to specific relevant authorities through city council.

However, Chaluma said the council has no mandate to change national guidelines from national task force on Covid-19.

“There is nothing we can do with national guidelines like to change time for bar operating in the city because it is gazetted and are laws,” said Chaluma.

As one way to contain Covid-19 pandemic, government is currently enforcing new guidelines among them are operation of bars from 2pm to 8pm, closing all markets by 5pm, disinfection of all government buildings and mandatory wearing of face masks.