BHESP BLOGS

Sex workers under their umbrella body Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) are raising concerns over safety of their work after reports emerged of missing condoms donated by the Global Fund to Kenya, that were under the custody of Kenya Medical Supplies Authority (KEMSA).   

Some over 1000 000 condoms, 908 000 mosquito nets and tuberculosis drugs worth Sh10 million ($87 000) are reported missing from a warehouse operated by Kemsa.


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Every Tuesday at BHESP Kimathi is Juice Tuesday where sex workers come together at a safe space and share their work experiences while receiving free condoms, contraceptives, ARVs, Prep pills and most important free advice from Betty who hosts them. They do this while enjoying a glass of free juice. Without revealing her identity, Betty shares a story of a young sex worker who has just been introduced to BHESP by one of her colleagues. We will call her lady X


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BY BHESP TEAM. 12TH JANUARY 2022……The onset of the global coronavirus pandemic in 2019 disrupted economies across the world disproportionately, threatening the livelihoods of people working in the informal sector with low-wage jobs. These include sex workers, who are further marginalized due to the criminalization of sex work. Reports from diverse regions suggest sex workers continue to work despite restrictions to survive but struggle to find clients and experience increased vulnerability to stigma, violence, and police harassment.

It’s been two years since the pandemic struck and sex workers are the section of the population left with no money to sustain themselves and their family members. Globally, sex workers have lost their work due to lockdowns and curfew and have limited job opportunities to engage in other formal occupations.

But the year 2020 looks promising, since October 20th, 2021, Kenya has eased tremendously some of the restrictions that had been put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus. Bars, restaurants, and entertainment joints are now fully in operation thus providing sex workers with hotspots for getting their clients. The 10 pm to 4 am curfew has also been withdrawn.

Annett Njeri (not her real name) is a sex worker who lives in the Kasarani area of Nairobi but operates mainly in Westlands, several kilometers from where she resides. For her the lifting of the curfew was long overdue. “imagine I am in Westlands and I get a client at 9 pm, I have to think about the client and the same time think about how I will get to Kasarani before 10 pm, it was crazy” explains Annett. I hope this year will bring more tidings because we are now operating without restrictions.


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DECEMBER 7TH 2021. BY BHESP TEAM.

BHESP, a sex worker-led organization has been at the forefront of advocating for the rights of sex workers since 1998. The organization working with other partners has witnessed different trends and development as well as challenges as it works to supports key population that are at the highest risk of contracting and spreading HIV.

According to the 2009 Modes of Transmission Study done by the National AIDS Council, UNAIDS and the World Bank, 14% of new HIV infections in Kenya occur among female sex workers and their clients. Data from BHESP shows an estimated HIV prevalence of 30% among female sex workers and their partners.

Daisy Kwala is a Care Manager with BHESP and she admits that it hasn’t been smooth sailing when it comes to providing care for HIV positive sex workers. “We currently have a cohort of 18,802 out of which 2151 are living with HIV, some of the major challenges around sex workers living with HIV are adherence to ART, most of them don't keep appointment mostly influenced by alcohol and substance abuse, some don’t have shelter and operate from the hotspots so having them keep the ART at the hotspots is challenging” said Ms Kwala.


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BY BHESP TEAM, 1ST SEPTEMBER 2021....

Nairobi Deputy Governor Ann Kananu recently signed into law the Nairobi City County Public Nuisance Bill 2020 passed by the county assembly.

The raft of regulations has already taken effect.

Prostitution is not criminalized under national law, however, municipal by-laws prohibit it.

It therefore means should County askaris arrest someone for engaging in "prostitution", the offender will be arrested and charged in court and if found guilty, will be jailed for 6 months or fined Ksh 10000.


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BHESP PrEP Work around PrEP

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. Communication will be done by musicians and other entertainers through concerts, music/road shows and other means as suggested by the consumers.

What African sex workers want

What African sex workers want

There are basically three things sex workers desire, and hope for

Rather than looking at the ethical, religious or personal stances on sex work, it is important to first acknowledge that sex work has borne the brunt of a highly stigmatizing society, and one whose sexual conservativeness has often clouded, and looked in aghast as those who freely, consensually, and of course, engage in sex work for money, pleasure or other mutual benefits.

A basic activist definition of sex work is ‘sex work is the exchange of sex, or other sexual services, in exchange for money, gifts, or other sexual services.’ I will not delve into the historical lineage of sex work in Africa, or even map the many ways society and others, has tried to regulate, punish, rehabilitate, and even kill off the sex work profession.

Internship Opportunity

Seeking Internship? Have you studied Communication, Journalism, Mass Communication or a related field? Do you have a grasp of research and are conversant with human interest stories?

Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme {BHESP} is seeking to recruit an intern to source and write news and feature articles advocating for the rights of female sex workers in Kenya.

The intern will also be responsible for documenting the achievements and challenges of BHESP. The articles that will seek to amplify the voices of sex workers will be published on the BHESP website.

INTERESTED? Send a one-page letter of interest, CV and two examples of your writing to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Application DEADLINE: 22 JULY, 2016

Thika Man Remanded In Attempted Rape Case

A Thika court has remanded an attempted rape suspect after failing to raise a Ksh. 300,000 bond.

The Court heard that on 17th February 2016 at Thika town, John Mwangi Irungu attempted to rape and brutally assaulted Esther*, who is a sex worker.

Irungu appeared before Thika Senior Principal Magistrate Abdulqadir Lorot and pleaded not guilty to the charges against him.

Lorot directed that the accused be released on a Ksh. 300,000 bond with a surety of a similar amount and set 28th April 2016 as the hearing date for the case.

Esther, while narrating the full account of her torment, says Irungu approached her as a normal customer only for him to attack her when she refused to have unprotected sex.

“I told him to use a condom but he refused, fought me and tried to forcefully have sex with me. First he hit me on the head and then severally on my back,” explains the 27-year-old who came within seconds of being raped.

Esther, a mother of two, says the blindly angry Irungu endlessly beat her up while shouting at her saying she must adhere to his sex demands.

“He held my throat and began to strangle me with his bare hands. I bit his hands and that’s when he left me. I rushed to the window screaming and calling the security man,” says Esther who joined the oldest profession two years ago.

Luckily Esther says the security man together with her colleagues responded to the unrest and broke into the room and apprehended the suspect.

“He was taken to Thika police station where he was booked and put into custody,” she says.

Esther went to Thika Level 5 hospital where she received treatment for head and back injuries and was asked to come in the morning to fill the p3 form.

“Despite the pain I was experiencing, I woke up very early in the morning and went back to the hospital, filled the p3 form and took it to the police station,” she adds.

At the police station, Esther says she found Irungu’s siblings who tried to persuade her to settle the matter out of court but she vehemently refused and vowed to proceed with the case until justice is delivered.

“The police officer in charge of the case told me that Irungu’s family wanted to pay me Ksh. 50,000 but when I remembered what I had undergone I vowed to proceed with the case to its logical conclusion,” she reveals.

Esther hopes that upon completion of her case, a harsh sentence will be imposed against Irungu to act as a warning to men who have the habit of sexually assaulting sex workers.

*Name has been changed to protect the identity of the subject.

Get in touch

       742444781

        797885013

        Email: info@ bhesp.org

Mirema Stone Groove

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