Prostitution and drugs in Africa’s mining sector

April 25, 2017

Africa mining industry employs and supports livelihood of millions across the continent. But behind the scenes, prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse is endemic in parts of the mining sector.A new report involving 12 countries that your blogger has a copy of, examines drug use at mining camps in countries like South Africa, Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania, Ghana among others.The authors claims there’s overwhelming evidence showing huge problems with substance abuse.The issues there in those African communities are mostly related to alcohol, prostitution, and male on male violence in and around pubs or in the camps, the report notes. Certainly, there was a creation of lucrative drug markets and markets in commercial sex.The authors says it would probably be about half the camps that would operate like that. Sexual exploitation, in mining areas involves women and youth but in some cases may include young children like is the case in Democratic Republic of Congo. Drug use is linked to sexual exploitation in a number of ways. Many miners who are exploited are sexually assaulted, raped and abused when they are under the influence of drugs. Also, many miners earning pea nuts become involved in the sex industry to finance their drug addiction and often trade their body for drugs. Human and drug trafficking are common as well with threats of violence.In mining sector, drug use is intrinsically linked to prostitution especially mining camps prostitution. Estimates suggest that between 60% per cent of all prostitutes in mining areas are drug users. Many prostitutes, men and women, are selling sex to support their drug habits and are often the victim of sexual exploitation, violent crimes, rapes, assaults and other serious crimes but these are very often unreported crimes because most of miners are informally employed.

In some cases like the one mentioned in the report in Democratic Republic of Congo, women begin to prostitute as a way to finance their daily needs and drug habits. In other cases, young girls are forced to work on as sex workers to make money. Drug use may be a consequence of the life that a prostitute leads and drugs may be taken to numb themselves, deal with the reality of their life and as a way to be able to get on the mining camps and continue to do the degrading and often violent work in mineral rich African countries like Democratic Republic of Congo. In some cases, young underage prostitutes are forced by other person to take drugs to ensure that they do as they are told and have sex with people. This is particularly true in the case of young people and children in Democratic Republic of Congo.Sadly, children are often the victims of sexual exploitation. Some children are forced to take drugs or drink alcohol, to have sex or to perform sexual acts without consent. Some are also made to prostitute themselves for the sake of another person.Kids are lured older people who befriend them, with presents, drugs and alcohol and force or coerce them into having sex with people many times older than them. In some cases noted in the report, the young boy or girl may believe that they are being mature when they spend time with older people but more often than not they are simply being taken advantage of and exposes them to sexually transmitted diseases and violence.Also common are sex trafficking acts that involves a person being promised a job in another mining company, being sold by a family member to another party, a false marriage proposal or a kidnapping situation then made to work as a prostitute or perform sexual acts as a payment. Women and girls are the most commonly trafficked people for this purpose in Africa.Sex traffickers apparently use a variety of ways to make a person conform to their demands. Rape, physical abuse, starvation, violence, drugs, gang-rape and guilt are used to shame a victim into the life of a sexual slave. Drugs such a marijuana, cocaine, heroin and methamphetamine are commonly used to make a person become an addict and force them to do the work the traffickers want them to do in mining camps.

Contador Harrison