Sex Workers Using Cotton and Cloths to Prevent Pregnancies and STI

SEX workers are inserting cotton and cloths inside their private parts to prevent themselves from contracting sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies, a practice that has been vehemently condemned by sexual reproductive health experts.

By Michael Gwarisa

Speaking at a gathering for Sex Workers this morning in Strataven, Harare, sex workers confirmed that they insert fabrics inside their vaginas to prevent them from falling pregnant as the material sucks in semen in the event of a condom bursting or when they meet clients who demand unprotected sex.

“I joined sex work in 2o11 and the lady who initiated me into this business advised me to use soft cotton cloth to prevent myself from contracting STIs and pregnancy.

“I have been using cotton cloths since then,  that is when I ventured into this sex work business. It has proved to be effective because I have never contracted any STI, pregnancy or HIV,” said one sex worker who only identified herself as Cleo.

According to the sex workers, one just needs to lubricate the fabric before inserting it inside the vagina, then pushes it down close to the cervix and the job is done.

Another sex worker by the name Primrose said the issue of using cotton and cloths was very prevalent in the sex work business but was quick to discourage the act which she says could expose sex workers to numerous infections and cervical cancer.

 “In the sex work business, there is no one size fits all kind of approach. You do as you please and you use methods you feel work for you. Yes people might use cloths or different herbs but that is very dangerous and could expose them to cervical cancer and other vaginal infections.”

The cloth stays inside the vagina for hours inside the and a sex worker can sleep with at least five or six men, and according to one sex worker, it is removed the moment it starts producing an odour.

The cloth or cotton lump, works as a tampon as it sucks in the liquids, juices and fluids which are excreted during sexual intercourse.

In an interview on the sidelines of the sex workers meeting, Zimbabwe Aids Network Regional CoordinatorZimbabwe AIDS Network, Chiratidzo Mariwo discouraged sex workers from inserting any objects inside their private parts and called on stakeholders in the HIV services sector to intensify their efforts to educate sex workers and women on the dangers of importing foreign objects inside their privates.

“My advice to sex workers is that they should stop immediately the inserting of cloths or any other object in their vaginas. Everything that is inserted inside the vagina will always have side effects, its not hygienic and also if you continue using that, you never know what you might be exposing yourself to.

“Naturally,  women excrete dirt from their vaginas and the moment you insert something that is not recommended to stay inside the vagina. You are prone to have problems. So we are saying that nothing should be inserted inside the vagina, its not recommended for health reasons,” said Mrs Mariwo.

Meanwhile, National Aids Council (NAC) key populations coordinator, Mr Jerry Manyika said the insertion of foreign objects inside women’s private parts has been singled out as one of the causes of cervical cancers in women in developing countries, Zimbabwe included.

“As NAC, we say no to the use of cloths as family planning methods or STI or HIV prevention measures. We only advise women to use recommend family planning methods particularly the use of condoms

“The use of cloths, I was actually surprised, it’s not recommended. There are issues to do with cancer, we afraid and we have our fears on the proliferation of the use of cloths as preventive methods. We hope proper information is going to be disseminated to ensure the practice stops,” said Manyika.






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