Widespread corruption and deteriorating economy have contributed to rise in sexual bribery.
Zimbabwe has recorded an unprecedented number of women reporting being forced to exchange sex for employment or business favours.
More than 57% of women surveyed by Transparency International Zimbabwe (TIZ) said they had been forced to offer sexual favours in exchange for jobs, medical care and even when seeking placements at schools for their children.
The report, found women in the informal sector experienced sextortion as the main form of non-monetary bribes by various officials.
About 45% of women said they had received requests for sexual favours to access a service and 15% had used sex to get employment. The report, entitled Gender and Corruption, found women were increasingly vulnerable to sexual abuse amid the deteriorating Zimbabwean economy.
“57.5% of these respondents noted that sexual favours are the form of non-monetary bribe they had experienced. Sextortion is thus a part of the bribery culture in Zimbabwe. Women who do not have money to pay for bribes are thus forced to use sex as a form of payment. 15% used employment favours as a form of bribery,” reads the report.
Women in business were also found to have faced sexual harassment when seeking government tenders.
Studies carried out by TIZ in 2019 showed women are vulnerable to sexual abuse when seeking land for residential, business or agricultural use.
Sextortion is a global phenomenon that causes serious harm, robbing women of dignity and opportunity, and undermining confidence in public institutions, according to rights groups.
Zimbabwe ranks 158 out of 180 countries included in the Transparency International corruption perceptions index.
The study shows women are being coerced into corruption, while many fear reporting sextortionists as some police are thought to be part of the corruption chain.
Although Zimbabwe has made progress in advancing gender equality through the establishment of various institutional, legal and policy frameworks, the country still ranks low on the UN gender inequality index. Sexual extortion is rarely recognised as a form of corruption, yet gender activists say it reduces women’s access to land and markets and reinforces social and economic marginalisation.
Lack of political will to deal with corruption has frustrated the efforts of the Zimbabwe anti-corruption commission, which has a mandate to investigate corruption cases in the country.