By Brenda Zulu
The Tasintha programme is “Celebrating the 16 days of Gender Based Violence (GBV) against women” as it addresses issues of commercial sex workers who have gone through psychological, physical, trauma and gender based violence.
Professor Nkandu Luo, Chairperson for Tasintha programme explained that the whole programme deals with girls and women from broken homes and those who have been sexually abused by men.
She said all the testimonies of the women at Tasintha indicate that they have gone through GBV and that most of them who escaped death have witnessed their friends being killed.
She said the women of Tasintha have a lot to boast about because being a sex worker is stigmatised.
“They can now go into schools to talk about the ills of prostitution. This programme is not possible without the women,” said Prof. Luo.
She pointed out that the programme has made former sex workers business women because when she looks back at the places where some of these women where recruited they owned nothing not even a pot.
The women’s lives at Tasintha have been transformed as some are doing business while some are now married.
About 5 000 women have passed through the Tasintha programme a grassroots NGO, a non profit making, non partisan and interdenominational nature. It was established by a group of 39 people representing 11 local Women and Youth organisations, the international community in Lusaka and individuals who met in Lusaka on 1st April 1992, who were concerned about the problems of children and women living in hazardous situations of prostitutions, sexually transmitted infections (STI) and HIV/AIDS, particularly as it related to the growing spread of HIV/AIDS and its already acknowledged devastating impact on society.
The word Tasintha is a Chewa word which means “deeper transformation”. Its vision is to free
Zambia from Commercial sex work and HIV/AIDS. Its mission statement is to address issues of children and women’s vulnerability especially those in Prostitution for the good of society.
The programme provides: live saving and professional skills (depending on the individual level of education), health services, rehabilitation facilities, child welfare and advocacy for human rights and protection against abuse of women and children involved in prostitution and sex work.
The programme strongly believes in strategies that promote rehabilitation, recovery and restoration of victims of prostitution as well as prevention mechanisms. Currently the programme is recruiting about 1,300 people following the unfortunate death of many of them who have died and has plans to expand the to Livingstone, Kapiri and Chirundu which will soon be launched during the 16 Days of activism against GBV.
Through research results by Tasintha, the programme highlights that there is urgent need to create opportunities for these groups in order to save lives and improve their quality of life and establish, enact and enforce pro-life laws and policies that enhance and facilitate improved quality of life.
Asked weather they have dealt with men, Tasintha Programme Co-ordinator Clotilda Phiri said that they have found men to be the most difficult people to rehabilitate in the area of commercial sex.