Prostitution: LHRC hints at rights breaches

23Mar 2019
The Guardian
Prostitution: LHRC hints at rights breaches

AUTHORITIES in Singida region have arrested more than 30 women suspected to engage in prostitution as leaders here say it is part of a continuous operation to make the central town free of ladies of the night.

Singida Regional Commissioner Dr Rehema Nchimbi

Singida Regional Commissioner Dr Rehema Nchimbi told a Regional Consultative Committee (RCC) here yesterday that 38 ladies suspected to engage in commercial sex work were nabbed by law enforcement authorities Thursday night and the hunt continues.

Dr Nchimbi who chairs the regional peace and security committee told the RCC that an increasing number of twilight ladies in the region jeopardized some of its development endeavours. 

Tanzania cannot achieve its industrialisation and middle income status aspirations if its women hawk themselves for sex, she declared.

“Lord Mayor, I know you want our town to achieve city status. We cannot achieve that with prostitutes loitering around. We arrested 38 last night and we will arrest more. They have to leave Singida,” she said.

But reacting to the matter yesterday, executive director of the Tanzania Human Rights Centre (LHRC) Anna Henga said past experiences show that such operations come with a lot of violations of basic rights.

She said although Tanzanian laws proscribe earning a living out of prostitution, law enforcers normally arrest suspects accused of loitering and that’s where the problem comes because wrong people get caught in the mix.

Her argument was that during police swoops at night, innocent ladies coming from work late, including bar maids and those who work night duties get arrested and labeled as prostitutes.

“I advise that human rights be observed during this and other such operations to avoid castigating innocent people, putting them in bad light,” the director emphasized.

RC Nchimbi first announced the resolve to flash out all prostitutes from the region a fortnight ago during the commemoration of the International Women's Day. She gave green light to the police to arrest and prosecute all those suspected to engage in sex transactions.

In 2016, the government voiced concern over an increase in prostitution among teenage girls, ordering police to start arresting men who pay for sex. Police said then that men who buy sex contributed to a flourishing sex trade.

And last year, the government said that tough law to fight against prostitution was underway as the current one was a bit lenient.

Deputy Home Affairs minister Hamad Masauni told Parliament in September last year that the current laws were too light to discourage the malpractice hence needing to be replaced with tougher ones.

For example, he said when an owner of brothel was arrested by police for the first and second time, he or she is required to pay only 5,000/- and 1,000/- as fines, respectively.