‘We’ve Bills to Pay’: Kenyan Sex Workers Urges Government to List them as Essential Service Providers

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According to Daily Nation, commercial sex workers in Mombasa have come out to urge the county government to include them in the group of essential service providers, noting that the outbreak of the novel coronavirus has greatly affected their livelihood as clients no longer come as they used to as a result of the lockdown.

“Since the scourge started, we have incurred losses. The closure of bars, restaurants and clubs as a result of the curfew has rendered 90 per cent of sex workers jobless. These were the places where we could get our daily bread,” High Voice Africa chairlady, Maryline Laini, told the news platform.

As a result, she claims they have resorted to charging as little as Sh20 (₦73) for their services.

Before the pandemic, they charged between Sh50 (₦183) and Sh10,000 (₦36,500) depending on the clientele, location, age and other factors

“Life is tough, we are being stigmatised… Some of us are HIV positive, we need to eat for the treatment or the drugs we are using to benefit our bodies,” Ms Laini, who also called on authorities to add them as beneficiaries of relief items, said.

Ms Betty Kitili, a paralegal from Changamwe, also noted that the sex workers now have very limited time to work.

“There is no business. We are noticing an increase in number of domestic violence cases and we are hurting. Stress levels in most households are unbearable and we were instrumental in cooling them down but since coronavirus, we have lost clients,” Ms Kitili said.

They reckon that most of their clients are now stuck at home.

“We don’t have sufficient time with the few that we are lucky to get during the day and that results in low pay.”

With most hotels closed for business and few tourists around, the sex workers say they are more likely to suffer from hunger than die from coronavirus complications.

“We all have bills to pay, rent among many other financial obligations, how will we survive?” Ms Kitili said.

Mombasa, Kilifi and Kwale counties in Kenya have been in containment effective 7 pm, April 8 after President Uhuru Kenyatta called for cessation of movement in and out of the three devolved units for a period of 21 days.

This is after the regions recorded a spike in Covid-19 cases, with the move expected to halt community infections.

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Uzonna Anele
Anele is a web developer and a Pan-Africanist who believes bad leadership is the only thing keeping Africa from taking its rightful place in the modern world.

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