EDUCATION is a lethal weapon for women not to be held hostage by men who in most cases view them as objects of sexual pleasure, says a social worker Joseph Moyo.
And Life for a 24-year-old trainee public health nurse Brainess Chilungo who was forced to be a maid so as to raise funds for her tertiary education is what late Bob Marley once sung in ‘Coming from the Cold: ‘Why do you look so sad and forsaken, when one door is closed, don’t you know another is open.’
In an interview, Moyo, who is the founder of The African Woman Foundation (TAWF) and president of the Lifestyle Health Foundation, said many young women in tertiary education are forced in sex work to finance their education.
“I speak from a vantage point because I have interacted with a lot of young women…in total we have 25 Zambians young women around the country that we as TAWF are supporting…. I speak from the mountain and
not from the valley, but first you have to go down into the valley and interact with the vulnerable girls and young women and come back to the mountain and speak out,” he said.
“Many women across Africa have been sending messages to our website, all speaking the same language. I have messages not only from Zambia, but Sudan, Madagascar, Egypt, Angola and Nigeria which is by far the worst in terms of abuses to young women in colleges and universities. The only way is to make education free. If women are educated, they
get to be armed with a lethal weapon that can be used to fight back anybody who may want to hold them hostage,” Moyo said.
He said that an educated women or young girl cannot be easily abused or held ‘hostage’ in marriage.
Moyo said women and young girls are as vulnerable as an impala is in the game park against a lion.
He added that uneducated woman more often fails to make her own decisions when it comes to reproductive health as a man takes her as an object only meant to fulfil his sexual pleasures and also a child bearing gadget.
“Young girls and women are most vulnerable when at colleges and universities, even when they are given 75 per cent bursaries this is never enough because for some poor women, the remaining 25 per cent is as good as paying 100 per cent, while for some, this is good. It is well intended but still is not enough and many young girls at colleges and universities have to turn to sex work as an option to raise the extra funds. But the consequences are catastrophic as one is prone to diseases infections such as HIV,” Moyo said.
Chilungo, who is a student nurse at the Livingstone Collaged of Nursing and Midwifery, has advised young women and girls in tough situations as was the case with her never to give up but persevere.
“I was born in Choma and I first went to Kabwe Primary School before doing my secondary school education at Chunga High School in Lusaka. I wanted to be a police women but later changed my decision because I want to save lives…my parents could not afford to pay for my school fees resulting in me being constantly chased out of class. After Grade 9, I could not proceed into Grade 10 and I ended up staying for a year out of school due to lack of funds. After Grade 12, I worked as a maid in Lusaka, earning about K500 to save for my higher education,” she said.
“Thank God, The African Woman Foundation came to my aid, paying for my public health education…so to my friends out there, please never give up as you never know what will come your way…I want to study medicine after public health nursing,” said Chilungo.