A security guard lowers his head as he whispers to the person behind the steering wheel of the car and lets him through the gate.
Another car comes and the same thing happens.
This is a common sight among entrances and exits of a number of higher learning institutions in the country.
The occupants of these cars however, are not always just the friends and relatives of the young men and women studying at these universities.
Billboards announcing “Graduate with “A”s not with AIDS” had in the recent past been erected on a number of university campuses in a bid to create awareness among students and educate them about the risk of contraction the killer disease.
But for Zubeda,* selling sexual favours to older men has for the last two years become her lifestyle since she joined college.
The second year student pursuing a degree at the Institute of Social Work in Dar es Salaam says she is forced to resort to such a lifestyle because she was not lucky to secure any loan from the Higher Education Students Loans Board(HELSB).
“Unfortunately I had not qualified for loan and life at campus is proving to be beyond my reach, the only option I had is to look for a plan B,” she says.
Zubeda, who spends anything between Sh 8,000 and 10,000 daily, says she cannot count on the irregular cash flow from her parents who live in Karatu Arusha.
Unlike other mainstream prostitutes who go to the streets and keep an eye out for customers, Zubeda leaves her room which she shares with another female student and wander around the institute’s campus, hoping to land a prospective customer.
She says this habit has gone unnoticed by fellow students or the university’s administration, thanks to what she refers to as a smart trick she uses.
According to Zubeda, sleeping with such men has helped her in meeting her daily needs which also includes saving some money as tuition fee.
- Some female undergraduates are gradually turning to prostitution to meet up with the lifestyle they have carved out for themselves
“I manage to settle my debts and meet other expenses, I think I’m doing the right thing,” she justifies. When asked what kind of men she sees, Zubeda is categorical, saying she goes for the corporate type, mainly those who own their own companies, work in banks, because it pays to render services to men belonging to this group.
Zubeda maintains that her lifestyle has not affected her academic performance throughout the two years. “This is a blessing in disguise, I have a reason for doing this,” she adds.
Zubeda’s story reflects the plight of many other female university students who see prostitution as the only way to finance their survival while they study.
Queen James*, is a first year student at a college based in Dar es Salaam. Fridays are very busy for Queen, she starts preparing by spending several hours in her room getting dressed and painting her face.
After checking herself out in the full length hallway mirror, she walks into a pub located next to the college, hoping to find her next conquest. This has become a weekly ritual ever since she joined the institution .
“I’m a party animal, I just love having fun,” she says and laughs. I also just like the attention, they like to come visit me and they like to be seen with a young woman like myself. Queen does not want to share how many men she has been with, but admits that she has several men coming to visit her at the moment.
On campus business
Some simply hunt for potential Johns while still in campuses, whereas others use social networks for hunting.
In neighbouring Kenya, the Daily Nation once ran story about a Facebook page group of ladies known as Campus Divas for Rich Men who peddle their bodies to affluent men. “Money can buy us,” the page proclaims.
Comments on the pictures of nubile girls, which the administrator posts, read something like: “Maggie, 23, wants a rich dude, should have a car and own a house, who is willing to spend on her. They aren’t promising love or companionship as their selling banner.
They are saying: “If you are broke, don’t bother – it’s about the bottom line.” The divas group is pure prostitution in the new digital age. But prostitution is as old as society itself. What these girls are doing is not all together new; what is shocking is their age.
At 18 and still living on campus, how does a girl decide that her options have led her into the cul-de-sac that is prostitution? Tanzanian law says that prostitution is illegal, however, it is still widespread.
Many women and young girls are forced into prostitution due to poverty, lack of job opportunities, and the disintegration of the family unit.
Trafficking and prostitution are a major problem in Tanzania, while sex tourism is particularly prevalent in Zanzibar and Pemba.
In the recent past, there has been a trend in female students posting nude photos of themselves on the internet. Images of these female students have dominated a section of social networks, with some even going viral.
Some believe that it is new form of prostitution; by posting such images, young women invite men who would either want to sleep with them for either pleasure or financial gains.
“Universities used to be places where leaders are groomed and nurtured; that has since changed, now colleges have become nothing but brothels, where you go to pick and buy,” notes Mr Raphael Jilugu, an education activist based in the city.
He is of the opinion that images of universities have been tainted by such acts. According to the latest behavioural and biological surveillance survey conducted in 2011, the prevalence of HIV/Aids among female sex workers in Dar es Salaam is high.
The survey, commissioned by the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare, found that about 31.4 percent of 7, 500 female sex workers aged between 15 and 35 are HIV positive. Mr Denis Mpagaze, a lecturer at St Augustine University of Tanzania(SAUT) believes that some unsuspecting innocent female students are drooled into such situations due to peer pressure, and once they come back to their sense, their lives are way out of control.
“Some of them come from well to do families, finance is never an issue to them, but the moment they see their friends doing it, they follow suit,” he says. On the other hand, Mr Mpagaze suggests that some students are competing for material things.
“When you visit their dormitories you will find that they’re stocked with the luxury they are living in, to them it has become an obsession and they will do anything to fulfil their dreams.” From his personal experience, Mr Mpagaze says such activities led to poor academic performance .
For an institution that prides itself in keeping its students on a morally straight path, cases of its students filling up the night clubs in the country’s capital was the last thing St John’s University of Tanzania would smile upon hearing. It is alleged that it is harvest time for the students whenever a parliamentary season kicks off.
The claims are unjustifiable, according to Mr Karim Meshack , the university’s media liaison personnel. “It is well known that some female students could be practicing such a vice, but let me tell you that we have never caught them red handed doing it; it is hard to justify this rumour,” he says.
He adds that theirs was a religious higher learning institution, and that some filthy women in Dodoma masquerade as their students.