BHESP BLOGS

10th of December 2020 was a normal day for Jacqueline Waithera (not her real name) as she went about her routine of seeking clientele at her usual hot spot on the street of Nairobi, in the Kenyan capital.

Jacqueline is a sex worker and on a good day she can get up to 10 men who part with any amount from KSH 500 to even KSH 5000 shillings depending on the financial capability of the client.

Unknown to Jacqueline, this fateful day was not going to be productive to her and some of her colleagues, she was arrested and thrown into a waiting police van. At this point she knew very well that the little she had already earned would go into paying hefty fines.

She pleaded for mercy from the arresting officers but none would hear her, instead the law enforcers would physically and sexually harass the sex workers in the van and later be confined at the police cells.


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Every time I see the lawyer on T.V my heart skips a beat, my ulcers rise and I remember the pain of the accident, I relive the pain, the piercing chest pain, my back stuck on the bed, knives poking my body

, stomach on fire, my broken leg shaking in pain, I am drained in sweat, breathing through the mouth, tears rolling but too drained to cry out loud.

 This time the lawyer is being linked to the COVID 19 scandal. It is Thursday, the third week of August and the COVID19 scandal continues to unfold and shock, The Coronavirus that was first reported in China in late 2019 found its way to Kenya a few months later. Our Government, like many others, took measures to contain its spread. Medical supplies and protective equipment, a significant amount coming from donors, were procured and distributed through our government medical supply authority, KEMSA.


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“Times have changed, we need to acknowledge the fact that our kids are already engaging in sex”, says Wanjiku* who has a teenage daughter. With the closure of schools, the number of teenagers engaging in sex has risen.

Cynthia, a young mother to tell us her story; “In March, when schools were closed, we were excited that we would be spending the remaining time of the term at home. During the first month of the pandemic, my parents were quite strict on me and my brother moving around so we had no other choice but to stay at home.

After a couple of weeks, they were lenient and allowed us to leave the house but not later than 6 pm due to the curfew that had been imposed. During this time, I met this man. He was really friendly and he would take me back home at the end of the day. He told me he was still in university.


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Finally, the murderer of Peninah Wanjiru a member of BHESP has been found. David Megwi was arrested after the murder of yet another woman, same time exactly one year later, he had hired street boys to dump body parts in an estate dumpsite. The boys were arrested and led the police to David. We would like to remind the police of another murder same date the year before Peninnah's murder, same style, same dumping of the body in sacks. The victim was Cyprosa. There are many others.


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Vulnerable women such as sex workers are most affected by the lockdown. With bars being closed they are left with no other choice but to bring the client in their homes or even go to their client’s house. This puts sex workers at great risk of being abused.

A standard surgical mask goes for 100 Kenyan shillings; the basic requirements stipulate that a mask should not be worn twice. With most sex workers living from hand to mouth and the rise of Kenya’s economy, it is quite difficult to maintain this.


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