Bhesp

ONE MESSAGE TO WOMEN EXPERIENCING SGBV

Volunteer to learn and give your time to others through this you can be able to learn and deal with all forms of violence. Listen more and always talk less when experiencing any form of violence .report any type of violence and always be accompanied by a person who has experience and well informed on how to handle issues of violence’
Evelyn Mwangi

As we mark the 16 days of activism 2017 From 25 November, the International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, to 10 December, Human Rights Day, the 16 Days of Activism against Gender-Based Violence Campaign is a time to galvanize action to end violence against women and girls around the world.
The international campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991 we feature heroes of sexual and gender based violence [SGBV]who have seen it all ,heard it all and felt it all.
Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition. It may be true or not I can say for one that I have no other so great that being truly esteemed of my fellow men, by rendering myself worthy of their esteem.
Beautiful and tantalizing it is the story of a princess who chose to live in hell to provide heaven for the angels in her life; her children Evelyn Mwangi is the princes who circumstances made her to choose the night life. The life of a night nurse. She is a mother of two ,one at 61/2 years and schooling and another is 8 months .Evelyn started sex work in 2009 at 16yrs after dropping out from school in form 2.this was as a result of her mother losing her job therefore she could not pay her school fees she therefore had to drop out.
She started as a bar maid which she did for two weeks after which she became a stripper at the same bar in Thika town. She later joined sex work fully mid-2010.
She says the business was good as she was young and new something that attracted many clients and she says the pay was good. she would make between 4500-5k per day from Tuesday to Saturday .However there were several challenges she experienced one of them being abuse by the clients who knew she was new young and vulnerable.
She says she was raped severally, snatched her money and bitten by the clients. Like she states one day she was stripping then met a client who they agreed to meet he was waiting for her at a hotel next to the bar, they negotiated and agreed he was to pay her 1500 but when she got to the room the guy added the amount to 5000 and placed it on the table and insisted they have it without a condom.
She refused and told him that he just sticks to 1500 but with a condom. He got mad and told her the reason he was giving 5000 is because he wanted it raw. Then he started beating her and raped her but left the whole amount with her. She says she was not informed of the steps to take after rape she just assumed only to find out later that she was pregnant and she did an abortion and went on with her life.
She also vividly remembers when she was leaving work one day at 2pm then two men called her and she refused and ran away they chased her and bit her then after beating her one of them told her to give him a shot for 500 shillings ,she accepted coz he was willing to use a condom .
She also remembers a client who beat her and broke her hip just because they dint agree on the amount.
she just started taking pain killers for almost a year and when she went to hospital she was advised to have a Citi scan which revealed that she had a big swelling with a lot of purse and she needed to go through surgery .so she got admitted for one month two weeks at Thika level five hospital .she says this are just but a few incidents she has gone through.
She has received a lot of empowerment from Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support program [BHESP] where the organization has trained her to be a peer educator and a paralegal Bhesp has taught her how to handle violent clients without fighting. It has also taught her on healthy sexual precautions e.g. using protection, family planning, and too she was using pep for long after rape and during condom bursts.
When prep was enrolled in Kenya she was one of the first beneficiaries to use it through BHESP. She also says BHESP has taught her human rights and been trained on how to behave during and after an arrest. BHESP has been handy anytime she got arrested, she was always bailed out and she says how she relates to issues now relating to human rights is way different than 6 years ago.
She is more sensitized and empowered now she knows what is right and wrong in terms of arrest. She has been enrolled as a peer educator and a paralegal through this she can be able to educate others like currently she is a peer educator in Thika she knows how to handle violence issues ,how to negotiate with the police in case the girls are arrested and she also can sensitize them on their rights.
She does condom distribution, lubricants, give referrals to the clinics, take them for counseling .BHESP has also empowered her financially where she states through BHESP she and other girls have formed groups for table banking where they do daily contributions of 300 shillings and they are 30 members so the contributions are divided among three members each so in a day they contribute 9000 and each member of the three gets 3000.
She says in future they are targeting to come up with a Sacco that will grow and develop them even to greater heights. She says through BHESP she was able to come up with her own organization SEWOWO where they do a lot of advocacy for sex workers, they train them on their rights .one of main activities they do is advocate for the removal of young girls from the streets. They do one on one talks with them and tell them that sex work is not ok for underage girls so they teach them of the dangers and all.
We also went ahead to ask her how she is empowering other sex workers with the knowledge acquired from BHESP and she said She teaches them to be aware of their rights the steps to take in case of an arrest. She also teaches them the steps to take in case one is raped; she teaches them the importance of using condoms and safety measures to take as a woman at risk of getting HIV by taking pep and prep depending on the risk.
She also talks to the on the importance of not being quit in case of rape and that all forms of violence should be reported and one should not keep quiet about any form of abuse. She also says she is a living advocate of SGBV and she tells them that nobody should go through what she has gone through because the information out there is more than what was available 5 years ago and they should yearn to learn.
as a way of empowering them she says she volunteers to walk with them in a crisis so they may feel they are not alone for example if a lady is raped she looks into it that they go to hospital, take them to the police to report and also takes them for counseling this makes the girls who are a times young and new not to fear when they see her presence.
That’s why at BHESP we say the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenges and controversy

Bella Kisiangáni
Human Rights /Advocacy officer
Bar hostess empowerment and support program -BHESP