Tanzania Seizes 500 Sex Workers, 300 Customers In Prostitution Crackdown

800 people said to include 500 suspected sex workers, and about 300 of their customers have been bundled into the prison in Tanzania by the authorities, for their reported involvement in prostitution. This is as part of the country’s stern measures to curb prostitution.

Dar es Salaam’s deputy police commissioner had confirmed the arrest, stating that the first suspects will be arraigned in court on Wednesday.

Deputy police commissioner Simon Siro also revealed to BBC Swahili that the suspects were being held in three separate prisons within the city. He added that the sex business encourages both drugs abuse and violent crime in the country.

Reports also say Tanzanian authorities are targeting not only the women who sell their bodies but also men who pay for it as part of the crackdown to stop prostitution in the country.

The newly elected president of Tanzania, President John Magufuli, who grabbed power on an anti-corruption ground, has in the past castigated prostitution in the country.

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Famously known as the Bulldozer, President Magufuli, has sworn to make sure that law and order of the country is upheld. Since he clinched power in November, the president was most often referenced as a strict and mean person. And he has made it clear since resuming office, even more recently as he placed a ban on wearing of mini skirts.

Rights groups slammed the apprehension, which began a week ago, calling on police not to detain suspects beyond the legal 48-hour limit. The drive against prostitutes whips up the argument on the rights of sex workers and making the trade legal to cut down the abuse of workers.

A Pan-African Alliance of sex worker, named Africa Sex Workers Alliance (ASWA) located in Kenya, says it is not happy with the capture of 500 sex workers, and 300 customers, for reportedly being involved in sex work.

The group’s vision is to see a world where sex work is regarded as work in Africa, and where the health and human rights of all sex workers living and working in Africa are protected.

The right groups opined that against the background of the advantages of not having sex workers (including to protect sex workers from HIV, violence and abuse) it is not right for the governments to resort to decriminalizing commercial sex work.

Sex work is still viewed as wrong in almost all the countries in the world especially in Africa. It is illegal in Tanzania, but also common to see young women trafficking and trading sex especially in Dar es Salaam, where prostitutes charge as little as 10,000 Tanzanian shillings ($4.58).

The job remains an inharmonious and controversial topic across Africa. Though prostitution is not legal in the most African countries, the practice is widespread and in the abstract, the law is not enforced in the areas where it is treated as illegal.