Prostitution is regarded as the oldest profession since time immemorial. The current economic crisis has not spared the profession as sex workers are feeling the pinch.
Regardless of the cash crisis, the industry has responded with an economic stimulus package of its own that is modern marketing tools, rebates and gimmicks to boost falling demand.
Some brothels told Zimsetinel that to become a prostitute in this economy was not merely a financial decision.
“In this economy, becoming a prostitute is not merely a financial decision. The increase of supply of people in an already difficult industry is also affecting us to a greater extent,” said a Fife Avenue prostitute, Dephine John.
She added that they have cut prices or added free promotions, while others ‘introduced all-inclusive flat rate fees’. Free shuttle bus discounts for senior citizens and tax drivers as well as day passes are among marketing strategies designed to keep business going.
“Times are tough for us too. We are definitely feeling the crisis. Clients are being thrift with their money. You can’t charge the extras any more and there is pressure to cut price. Everyone wants a deal and special promotions are essential these days,” she added.
An Epworth sex worker Lucia Tafirenyika said that she and her colleagues might have five or six clients per day a year ago, but this had fallen to one or even none.
She worries, however, that the crisis has led to price dumping. “Fees has fallen as low as five $5 per round in Epworth. You will find a lot of customers trying to negotiate prices down now, “she said.
Another prostitute from Eighth Avenue, Queen Lee, said they had resisted the pressure to cut prices, although other senior citizens and tax drivers get 50% discount on Monday and Sundays.
“Naturally, we are keeping an eye on the overall economic situation and making contingency plans. Our philosophy is to provide an important service and even in a recession there are some things people won’t do without. Other down market places might cut prices, but we decided we won’t do that, in fact we have raised prices by US$100,” said Lee.
She further stated that they use internet as it is safe and effective. They are online applications such as WhastApp, Facebook and other social media outlets as money spinning applications.
“While others are still glued to street corners waiting for patrons, the tech-savvy have ditched the old fashioned modus operandi. Numbers of women still hanging out in the popular zones known as red light districts around the city are decreasing. As for us, social media is more classy reliable, profitable and safe,” said Lee.
Her friend, who denied to be identified, said on these online platforms, they make use of raunchy pictures and lascivious language to advertise them to the public. Contact details, amount to be paid and period for services and a brief description on the nature of the services offered is displayed on their statuses.
She also revealed that they are now offering virtual sex rather than physical to clients who do not have money.
“There are some men who do not have enough money, but want to relieve some stress so l engage in virtual sex with them. After l receive a credit alert, l do a video call with them. We get naked till they are relieved and once that are too shy ask for my nude pictures and I obliged,” she said.
Lee and her friend said they were alarmed that amateur prostitutes – mostly women with low paid careers were increasingly turning to prostitution to make ends meet.
“More and more women are moonlighting on weekends. They are not able to get by with their main job and are pretty dire straits. For some, it works out but it’s tough for some and they often don’t stay very long,” they said.