I write to correct the image of Zambians passed on to the journalist by the First Lady when she was interviewed on the position on condoms and prostitution during the 17th ICASA conference in South Africa as featured in the Post Newspaper of 11/12/2013 . I bemoan the fact that the questions were spontaneously asked to the First Lady, perhaps leaving her without much time to digest them and to ensure that her response to them was amenable and in tandem with our culture and traditions as Zambians and on how we want to define and project ourselves to the rest of the world. I recognise also her bias coming from her professional; however these do not dispense her to say what she said. I find her position on the issues of: 1) condom distribution to the youths she said: “For me, I have always said let them have access to condoms; let them have access to contraception. But this must be done in a way that they are undergoing full counselling by appropriate people so that they will be able to know how to use them, and when to use them.” and 2) Legalizing prostitution she said: “On the problem of sex workers, Dr Kaseba said the business was booming and that Zambia could consider what other countries were doing.
She said in Europe, prostitution had been decriminalised and laws made to protect both the sex workers and the general populace.
“We protect the general population by making sure that these sex workers are known by the people to make sure that for anyone to become an official sex worker, they must be screened for all the infections,” she said. “This is what is happening in other countries, so people (sex workers) are known. So we have got to start maybe agreeing as a nation that ‘fine, we have these people with us, but how do we protect the population?” I find these two positions to be very, very awkward.
Condom distribution to the Youth
It is sad that this message is coming from the First Lady, ‘the Mother of this Nation Zambia’. How can the mother advocate for condom distribution to her children? Can Bamayo Ba Kaseba distribute condoms to her own children to use when having sex even when they are not married? While the fight for HIV/AIDS has to be multi-sectoral ; advocating for the distribution of condoms should not be coming from her. Hers should be the message of behaviour change which should be preached with reference to our very rich traditional values and customs and above all our Christian virtues of abstinence for those who not married and fidelity to those in wedlock. Let her leave this massage to the NGOs. She is should not make Zambia to be just any other country. Her husband promised to rule Zambia using the Christian principles and especially the Ten Commandments. What could be the place of condom distribution to the youths in the Decalogue? What could be the place of legalizing Prostitution in this? Do we have a philosophy of governing Zambia as country if there can be such a disparity between the Head of State’s vision and the First Lady’s as regards to what we want to see become of Zambia.
Our society (Zambian) does not accept promiscuity and prostitution as a noble career which people should freely and legally go into as their way of fending for themselves. Albeit the fact that some western countries have legalized prostitution; Zambians should not be pulled into this immorality and into this society with rotten moral fabrics.
Prostitution is an antisocial behaviour. It degrades the dignity of people involved into it especially women from being subjects to being objects of sex. It robs them of the dignity that they should enjoy as normal people. The First Lady should advocate for removing the underlying causes that force people especial the youth to go into prostitution such as poverty and unemployment. She should advocate for the domestication of economic rights into the Zambian constitution not the legalization of Prostitution. Could she certainly allow one of her daughters to go in the streets of Lusaka as a commercial sex worker? Zambia and the rest of Africa should be spared from this corruption. While we admit that prostitution exists in varying degrees in many African countries we should not create structures to re-enforce this vice. Ours should be the duty to address the underlying causes of poverty and thereafter to foster behaviour change. It is high time Africa taught the Western world her noble African values than to continue cutting and pasting very thing western as the solutions to the current African problems. Let us draw from our rich African heritage to resolve some of these problems.
BY: MC (do not Publish my name).