Zimbabwe’s economic crisis driving homeless boys into illegal gay sex trade

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06/04/2019

On a sunny morning in the central business district of Zimbabwe’s second city Bulawayo, 14-year-old Tapiwa is basking in the sunlight on a busy pavement. After running away from his abusive stepmother last year, Tapiwa turned to sex work to earn a living on the streets. He is one of the rising number of homeless children in a nation crippled by a cash crunch that has led to shortages of fuel and price hikes of basic necessities. Child rights’ groups said the sexual abuse of underage girls was widely discussed but to date little attention had been given to the boys caught up in the sex trade to survive. Gay sex is illegal in Zimbabwe, carrying a prison sentences of up to three years, but non-governmental organisations (NGOs) said reports of rising numbers of underage boys selling themselves on the streets were rife.

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