At 15, Elsie is a well-known figure in Avenues area doing what she knows best - surviving as a hooker. But the life of a prostitute, as Elsie and others have discovered, is not a bed of roses.
Elsie explains that life as a prostitute is very hard as sometimes clients refuse to pay for services provided whereas others even refuse to use protection. Since she is desperate for money she cannot deny them as they will offer more money.
"Clients sometimes force us to have unprotected or oral sex whilst others force themselves on us. As if it is not enough, the police on the other hand arrest us for loitering or even detain us for failing to pay fines after being arrested," Elsie lamented.
Sometimes the cops demand sex in exchange for the hookers' freedom. The likes of Elsie, when hunting for clients and in a bid to beat competition, have to be roaming around the streets or stalking clients at entertainment joints.
Elsie is not the only sex worker facing this ordeal day in day out. Prostitutes are abused by either their clients or even some members of the security force. Society shuns these people as they regard them as social outcasts.
Nyarai (20) a regular prostitute at a local nightclub said if one joins the trade they have to learn to be tough with the clients as most of the clients are cheats and bullies.
"Imagine this other day I got myself a client and we agreed that he was going to pay me $50 the whole night for my services. When we got to his place he started demanding oral sex citing that the money he was paying me was too much and also he would add $20 more. I agreed to his demands but to my disappointment the client refused to pay me. The following day, he started shouting obscenities as he violently forced me out of his house empty handed," said a tearful Nyarai.
Charity who plies her trade in the same avenues area with Nyarai lamented her ordeal showing this reporter her blue-black eye she got after she refused to perform oral sex for a client.
"I was physically abused, you can see these bruises on my face that I have tried to conceal with heavy makeup, however the problem is we are never taken seriously," she said.
Charity did not only get to suffer physical abuse but was also robbed of $80 that she had made the previous day. She also narrated how her friend in the trade whom she referred to as Senator was raped by a client after she had refused to engage in sex before the client had paid her for her services.
The client got furious and forced himself on her friend and had unprotected sex with her.
"The man pinned her down and had unprotected sex with her for the whole night, he also denied her freedom to leave till morning time," narrated Nyarai.
She went on to say that Senator could not report the offence the next day as she thought that the police would not sympathise with her as she is just a prostitute, furthermore the events were common in their trade thus it was "not new and worth reporting".
Gone are the days when prostitution was engaged by women who would have gone through a failed marriage(s) or widow nowadays girls as young as 14 are engaging into the trade due to factors such as poverty, domestic abuse and lack of adequate education.
Most prostitutes are either physically or sexually abused, but let their violators walk scot-free because of the stigma attached to the profession. The ordeals that prostitutes go through, one can be left to wonder if these people are aware of their rights as women and human beings.
Rumbidzai - a hardcore in the business said they must face whatever comes along their way because for one to be regarded a prostitute she must go through the following experiences: spending the night in police cells, forced to have unprotected sex and being denied payment after offering services.