WHEN some foreign tourists think of the Victoria Falls, the first thing that comes to their minds is the scenic spectacle of the majestic sheet of falling water, the largest in the world. But not every foreign visitor sets out to see the waterfall. A growing number of European women and Americans make a stopover with one singular mission in their minds - to engage in sex with Zimbabwe's black men.
In other words, female sex tourism is gradually taking root in Zimbabwe with Victoria Falls being the capital city.
They fall into three categories; Traditional sex tourists, who have similar characteristics and motives as male sex tourists, Situational sex tourists, who do not intentionally put themselves in a sex tourist position, but find themselves involved in a sexual encounter with local men. Situational sex tourists may fall into the category of either being businesswomen, students, and women in overseas conferences or other women who have different agendas that are non-sexual. Romance tourists, who plan to fulfil their travel with romantic experiences that they cannot experience in their native country.
Most of the female sex tourists who visit Zimbabwe fall into the last category. According to sex tourism researchers, the majority of these women are white, middle-aged or older and often have a history of unhappy relationships with men at home.
Others are in healthy relationships and are attracted by the thrill of indulging in sex with African men.
Female sex tourism is not a new phenomenon in Africa, but many Zimbabweans are unaware that Victoria Falls is increasingly becoming one of the popular destinations for foreign white women who want to engage in sex with African men.
"Some of the white women come here just to engage in sex with black men that they meet in hotels, restaurants and clubs. And most of them are successful as only a few men can resist sex. In any case, most black men have dreams of sleeping with a white woman," said a Victoria Falls hotel employee.
In an interview, a tour guide confirmed that Victoria Falls receives its fair share of female sex tourists. He revealed that most of them are intrigued by stereotypical beliefs that black African males are blessed with unparalleled sexual prowess and that they are gifted below the belt.
He said: "I once asked one white woman why she doesn't target black men in her country and she told me that she wants a pure black man who is in touch with his African roots and she doesn't want her friends and relatives to know that she is into black men because they wouldn't approve."
The tour guide added that some female sex tourists do it because it makes them feel dominant. They achieve this dominance by using money.
A taxi driver disclosed that female sex tourism in Victoria Falls is done covertly because of the stigma that would follow if it becomes known that the men sell sex to female sex tourists.
"Most of the women I have seen with our brothers are ugly and fat and most of the men are younger than the women so it's obvious that the men are attracted by the money that these women have. The other noticeable thing is that most of the men I have seen will be spotting dreadlocks."
This perception is supported by a University of Illinois report which stated that some women who engaged in risky sexual behaviour while travelling said that "they felt freed from sexual double standards at home", and hoped to "feel like a man" by having a one-night stand - no strings attached sex.
A female tourist from England, who identified herself as Leeshel, confirmed that some female tourists come to Africa and in this case, Zimbabwe, just for sex.
"I am not into that but I have friends and relatives who want to engage in sex in every country they visit. I don't see anything wrong with that because they are adults, they can act anyway they want. I don't judge but I don't do that because I am afraid of Aids," Leeshel said.
Leeshel let slip that her friends, who are into sex tourism, told her that it is easier to get men in Zimbabwe because most of the men are literate.
"In other African countries the language barrier poses a problem but here everyone speaks passable English. That makes flirting easy and the women avoid that awkward moment when they have to use gestures to show the men that they want to spend time with them," she said.
Leeshel added that female sex tourists are aware that they have to shower the African men with money and gifts in order to get the happy ending they desire.
"Most of my friends want to feel special and they see Africa as a romantic get-away but the African men see the relationship as a commercial exchange. They (female sex tourists) are aware that they are being used for money but it's a quid pro quo arrangement because they get the attention and sex they crave in return.
"But it's not like they come here and say to the men 'hey, come here I have money, let's engage in sex.' They are savvier than that. They are aware that the exchange of money makes it prostitution and it (prostitution) is illegal here. So they have to be careful and selective," she said.
Kenyan academic and author of Sex Tourism in Africa, Kenya's Booming Industry, Dr Wanjohi Kibicho cements Leeshel's suggestion that most female sex tourists use sex as a way to feel special.
"These women are lonely. Among all the women I talked to, there is an impression of something lacking at home, like their needs are not being met - not only sexual, but also psychological and emotional support," said Dr Kibicho.
According to Wikipedia, female sex tourists are classified as women from a developed country, who travel to less developed countries in search of romance or sexual outlets.
According to people in the tourism sector, the sex seeking white women are well and truly on the prowl for African men, even though they are a little less obvious about it. The women can be seen flirting with Zimbabwean men (although most times it's covertly), often ending in the formation of temporary relationships.
Source: Victoria Falls' sex tourism increasingly becoming popular (04/10/15)