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Do the children of female sex workers know what their mothers do to earn a living?

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.

“I stay with my children, my son and my daughter in a single room as its all that I can afford. Many a times I am forced to bring a client home so as to save the amount of cash that was to be spent in lodging,” She explains.

Akothe admits that it’s embarrassing to bring clients at her home but she care less arguing that it at least brings food on her table urging her children to understand and sympathize with her.

Akothe reckons one incident where her elder son fought with her loyal client after he found the client battering her mother.

“I know he was protecting me but after the incident my son never returned home. I heard he joined a criminal gang,” Says Akothe with tears flowing from her eyes.

  • Interview psychologists
  • Interview Peninah on her views
  • Peoples opinion on the same

A summary of difficulties faced by children of sex workers.

Below is a listing of various predicaments faced by children of sex workers.

  • Psychological issues arising from witnessing their mothers interacting with clients.
  • Low school enrollment in school due to parent’s poverty.
  • High number of drop outs among the enrolled.
  • Early sexual debut and sexual violence.
  • Introduction to sex work at adolescent
  • Early pregnancy
  • Risk of contracting HIV/AIDS and other sexual transmitted diseases.
  • Faced with stigma and discrimination at school and in the society.
  • Risk to enroll in vigilante groups.
  • Lack of life skills.
  • Drug abuse.
  • Child rights abuses.

 

Female sex workers among other key population had been a target for public health interventions aimed at spreading HIV. In as much we are engaged to this programs that target the adults, their children should not be exempted: in the long, all those aforementioned predicaments they undergo expose them to a greater risk of HIV.

 

In order to understand the predicaments faced by children of sew workers and provide interventions designed specifically to mitigate risk and fulfil needs an intensive research on the situation of children of sex workers should be done in Kenya the research should however be conducted in a manner that the children n will not be exposed to greater risks or stigmatization.

Proposed intervention:

  • Intensive research on situation of the children of sex workers on matters regarding to the unique risks they face.
  • Early childhood development programs.
  • Improving policies and programs that reduce stigma and strengthen access to cultural appropriate prevention, care and treatment also for children of sex workers.
  • Provision of guidance and counselling to children of sex workers.
  • Strengthening family capacity programs and peer support for parenting sex workers
  • Introducing vocational trainings for both sex workers and their children. Trainings should cover on topics such as life skills, parenting roles etc.
  • Creation of peer support groups among the children of sex workers.

What other organizations have done to help children of sex workers.

According to TASINTHA programme, a focal organization in Zambia that has been working with sex workers and children of sex workers for more than a decade, strengthening family caring capacity through home visitation and peer support for vulnerable parents is key in providing mental health support, parenting skills coaching, and monitoring of child welfare.

  • Early childhood development programmes for children, educational assistance, crèches and drop-in centers
  • Economic strengthening and job skills training projects.

Challenges faced:

  • Poverty: in the family they served plus HIV infection among the clientele presented a great challenge due to complex web of issues that affect poor client household.
  • Funding: Inadequate funding limited what they can do for the children.
  • HIV stigma: stigma posed an enormous challenge in providing adequate and efficient services for both the adult sex workers and their children, these programs failed to remove stigma.

CONCLUSION

In Kenya:

Article 53 of Constitution 2010 creates an immediate obligations upon the State to fulfil socio-economic rights of children. In effect, the government is bound to deliver healthcare, education, nutrition and shelter to all children irrespective of budgetary implications.  Most sex workers who are parents are indigent poor and cannot provide adequately for their children, due to their marginalization and stigmatization they are not capable to offer their vulnerable children a security blanket on the predicament they face for this reason it is important to liaise with the children/youth department and other organizations to work together to protect and secure the future of children of sex workers. Furthermore, the acclaimed principles on the rights of children gives a coherent notation when it comes to the best interest of a child which is paramount in every matter concerning children. Children of sex workers face a unique stigma an issue that is of key priority to not only organizations that serves children but also for Kenyan government.

Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Program runs a Dream project which focuses on the adolescent girls from age 15-24 years. These girls already are sexually active, it is a refined programme.  Although, there is a need to engage children below the age of 1 4 in programs that will be efficient to save them from all the predicaments they suffer as children of sex workers. Having a family centered care will work for the best interest of all female sex workers and bar hostess.

 

 REFERENCES

Constitution 2010

UNAID report on global AIDS epidemics: 2008

TASINTHA website reports.

Zuckerman B. Frank D.A “Not Brocken”

Journal of the international AIDS society 2010(supply 12)

International children’s right.

 

 

 

 

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