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I randomly engaged 25 Female Sex Workers {FSW} in a conversation so as to answer this disturbing question, which is coherent in all the discussion that touches the vulnerability of their kids.  

“How can I let my son know that I pay his fees through flesh trade? I and my son have an exquisite relationship in fact he holds me with respect because he knows I work as a sales person. Of course am a sales person, I did not lie to my son, what I did not disclose was what I was selling,” explained 32 year old Esther*.

On her part Jeri*, a mother of four, says she cannot reveal the nature of her work to her children due to the high levels of stigma associated with sex work in Kenya.

“I conduct my work in a secret manner. My children attend to a relatively good school. They know their mum is an accountant or a teacher perhaps,” reveals Njeri who has been in the sex work trade for the last seven years.

Majority of female sex workers have managed to hide the identity of their work as they ply their trade far away from their homes. However for Akothe*, the converse is true, as its impossible for her to cover-up what she does from her children in a slum set up.

A narrow path, iron made houses and open sewers are the scenery that welcomes you to Ghetto village situated in Kiamaiko area east of Nairobi.

"Welcome to Thabiti Young Mothers Group poultry farm," says 38-year-old JecintaWanjikuMuthoni as she ushers me into a converted old house that house the birds.

At the center of the house is the feeding area filled with a dozen of chicken while the corner of the house is the hatching area.

Muthoni, who is the chair lady of 30-member Thabiti Young Mothers Group, says the idea of chicken rearing was conceived at Bar Hostess Wellness Centre during one of their support group meetings.

On this 8th Day of March, International Women’s Day, the movement of Kenya Sex Workers joins all women around the world in commemorating this day.

Further in our quest of demand for human rights of sex workers by our state, the network of sex workers in Kenya including organizations such as the Key Affected Populations Health and Legal Rights Alliance (KESWA), Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) and Survivors Self Help Group (SSG) will this year, 2017, present their report on the rights of sex workers at the 68th Session on the Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women.

We assert our fundamental human rights to live free of violence, stigma, discrimination, and we assert our right to health.

Wednesday, 01 March 2017 21:49

BHESP PrEP Work around PrEP

Project Name; Consumer Demand Driven PrEP for adolescent Girls and Young Women in Kenya

Project description:

Adolescent girls and young women (referred to as consumers in this project) of 18-24 years at high risk of HIV exposure will be identified for this project. We shall identify their influencers and networks. The consumers will be approached in their hang out/ workplace areas mainly salons, watering points, hotels, colleges, social groups/sites, etc. Awareness to create demand for PrEP will be key. Young musicians and celebrities or other influencers will be recruited and trained to create awareness and hence demand through their music, tweets, blogs and interviews. We shall generate messages that communicate the most information in the least time but speak to their wants, needs and aspirations.

Tuesday, 28 February 2017 20:26

Women Need to Learn About PrEP, Panel Says

Most women do not know that pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) may be an HIV prevention option for them, panelists noted at the recent PrEP for Women: The San Francisco Story webinar sponsored by HIVE. Prevention messages around San Francisco are primarily targeted at men who have sex with men. The San Francisco Department of Public Health does not even cover the cost of HIV testing for women. To help educate women about PrEP, PleasePrEPMe.org has prepared a customizable palm card with basic facts about this HIV prevention method.

Thursday, 05 January 2017 09:25

New PEPFAR report

FOOTPRINTS painted in bright colours on the floor pass through the bustle of the Themba Lethu clinic in Johannesburg. They lead to a room where every week dozens of men are circumcised. Heterosexual men who get the snip cut their chances of contracting HIV by more than half, since the foreskin is delicate and tears easily. In South Africa, the country that has the world’s largest number of HIV-infected people, such initiatives can save a lot of lives.

Even more important has been a huge expansion in the number of infected people receiving antiretroviral drugs. These not only keep people alive but also suppress the virus, making its carriers less contagious. In September South Africa became one of the first African states to adopt a “test and treat” protocol whereby anyone infected with the virus can get the drugs immediately, instead of waiting until the immunological symptoms of full-blown AIDS appear. By this time the patient may have infected other people.

Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) is a sex worker-led organisation that includes sex workers, women who have sex with women (WSW), women who use drugs and bar hostesses in Kenya. Founded in 1998, the organisation serves as a common voice in efforts to reduce stigma and discrimination, while engaging various stakeholders in advocacy and policy dialogue. It is the first and oldest sex worker-led organisation in Kenya.

NSWP interviewed BHESP’s Executive Director Peninah Mwangi and one of BHESP’s Project Officer’s Kayte Njoki.

In  the  late  1990s,  a  group  of  women  working  in  Nairobi’s bars came together to protest. They were disillusioned by the “corruption, tribalism, and poor leadership”  in  Kenya,  that  “translated  to  extreme  poverty,  violence,  and  desperation”  and  prompted  many women to work and sell sex in bars.

When the HIV pandemic hit, “homes were wiped out, and almost the entire country was losing loved ones.” As Peninah Mwangi, a former bar hostess, recalls,   “We   spoke   of   HIV/AIDS   in   whispers   and   with   fear.   Everybody  suspected  themselves  and  each  other  as  having  the  then  ‘death  virus.”

While  researchers  studied  sex  work,  and  posters  were  produced  warning  men   to   stay   away,   there   was   no   funding   for   programs   to   protect   bar   hostesses and sex workers from HIV infection, or provide those who tested positive with treatment and care.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016 10:12

Employee by day, twilight girl by night

Meet Rose Syotini, a lovely 30 year old lady, fair skinned with beautiful alluring brown eyes. Her sweet voice, a voice that would make someone stop to confirm its owner is by no fault her enchant! Her physique coupled with her smile is what many would consider hypnotic! Besides her beauty, Rose doubles up as one of the most hardworking employees at Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP). This single mother to a 9 year old girl resides in Dandora phase 1 and juggles both as an amazing employee during the day as well as an occasional sex worker by night at various hotspots in Nairobi.

Before she joined BHESP in 2012, Rose was a full time sex worker, working in Korogocho slum and its environs.  She got to know about the organization through a self help group called ‘Night Nurse’. A group that she was introduced to by a certain lady named Mary Mugure. Mary was by then the chairlady of the group and knew about the services offered by BHESP. She brought together about 20 sex workers for a workshop at Kasarani (former BHESP offices) where they were taught about safe sex through condom use, lubricants, how to negotiate for payment and sexually transmitted diseases among others.

Female Sex workers continue to face disproportionate levels of violence and discrimination in a number of ways, including physical or sexual assault, or stigma attached to their identity based on their nature of work.

As a result of this many female sex workers are excluded from health systems consequently failing to access basic health needs which are a violation of core human rights and a clear driver of ill health.

However, Kenyan female sex workers no longer fear stigma and discrimination while accessing heath care thanks to the establishment of a sex worker friendly wellness center.

A tight spiral staircase leads you to the third floor of Hashi building located along the busy Jogoo road, few kilometers from Kenya’s capital Nairobi.

A smooth music decorates the corridor of the building and directs you to the reception of Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme {BHESP} wellness center.

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(+254) 020-260-8944

        Email: info@ bhesp.org

Kasarani Near Do's office

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