ANTANANARIVO, 28 August 2012 (IRIN) – About one in seven residents of Madagascar’s main port city of Toamasina are sex workers.
In less than 20 years, the number of registered sex workers in the city of about 200,000 residents has climbed from 17,000 in 1993 to 29,000 in 2012. The increase has been driven by rising poverty levels as well as the city’s proximity to the recently opened Ambatovy nickel mine.
Construction of the mine, coupled with recent improvements to the port, saw an influx of thousands of foreign workers. The billion-dollar investments also resulted in an escalation in living costs and the collapse of traditional commercial activities like the collection and sale of cloves and coffee, pushing more young women into sex work.
“Girls come from the countryside to work as maids. Then, when they have a problem with their employer, other girls from their region introduce them to prostitution,” Germaine Razafindravao, the president of the local sex worker collective FIVEMITO (‘Fikambanaina Vehivavy Miavotena Toamasina’ or Women’s Future), told IRIN…