By Theophilus Chuma
A two-year-old child is living metres away from danger, surviving in the extra ordinary world of thriving brothels along railways tracks in Harare where drugs and sexual activities are openly traded.
He spends the day running around innocently, unaware of the dangers lurking just centimetres from this place that he calls home.
He calls every man that passes by … daddy, that’s because he doesn’t know his real father, as he is a child born to a woman involved in the dangerous world of trading sex.
This place is a mine field for this child as he is exposed to every form of vile, from foul language, to horrible sexual scenes, as well as dangerous drugs.
For over a week this news crew followed the story of Rashma (not real name) to expose the soul-scarring issues that this little boy has to endure every minute he spends sitting along these rail tracks which have become breeding grounds for open brothels.
Posing as potential clients, we ventured into this lion’s den aware of the full dangers that awaited us should they discover our true identities. The environment is hostile, the language unimaginable, openly shouted in the presence of this child. The women care less whether this little child sees or hears their vicious words.
We sit through this torture, and try to divert conversation by asking the boy to sing a song. The next thing confirms our fears as he utters words way beyond his age. It is not only the language that he has picked up, but he is also being drilled into something else which this investigation seeks to expose.
Getting inside this dark world of sex trade is always dangerous, and so required discreet filming. We are told of the brutal life that takes place along these railway tracks, where drugs and alcoholism is so rampant. Strangers go in and out of the thick bushes to openly buy sex.
In such an environment where violence lives just centimetres away, Rashma has no defence exposing his young life to severe risk. His mother may not be aware of the dangers her child is being exposed to, but those in the same trade, who learnt the hard way, fully understand the consequences of taking a child into this kind of setting.
Rashma sees his mother go in and out with different clients, some of whom we are told can be violent. His little mind young as it is slowly being drilled into a hard-core citizen. This investigation observes that Rashma is left unattended most of the time as his mother attends to clients making him vulnerable to abuse even from the other women whom he knows as aunties.
Experts contend that children like Rashma are at a greater risk of behavioural damage as they tend to have underdeveloped psycho-social life skills due to social exclusion and rarely get to see positive role models.