JULY 13TH 2021. BY BHESP TEAM. 38-Year-Old-Monica (not her real name) started her day normally with hope that it would be a productive day having not received any money the previous day. And so it showed all the signs as one of her regular clients called to check on her availability.

Monica is sex worker based in Kayole in Nairobi. Depending on her clients’ preference, she either invites them to her single roomed house or goes to the clients preferred location which could be a lodging or in some rare cases the clients house.

Sunday 27th June 2021, a client named Nahashon Adeya calls Monica and asks for a convenient time to show up, they strike a deal and Samuel makes his way to Monica’s house.

On arrival, Nahashon makes a different demand and now wants to go out with Monica to a different location. Monica is now confused and refuses to comply with the surprise turn of event because she is also expecting other clients after finishing with Nahashon. He walks out disappointed and Monica thinks Nahashon is gone for the day and hopes the other clients she is expecting will not disappoint her.

Less than an hour later Nahashon returns, he is fuming with anger and demands to know why Monica refused to go with him. He slaps her severally, Monica screams but no one comes to her rescue immediately, he sees a kitchen knife among Monica’s cutlery, grabs the knife and stabs the screaming lady on her left eye.

At this point Monica knew her life was in danger and had to find a way to save herself. She decided to make a dash to her door, she managed to reach to her door but not before she received another stabbing, this time right inside her abdomen. She screamed even louder right outside her house and that’s when neighbors and other passersby came to her aid.

Now a mob had formed and was ready to lynch Nahashon had it not been for police who arrived just in time.

Monica was rushed to Mama Lucy Hospital and was attended to quickly to save her life. Nahashon was arraigned in court Friday 9th July 2021 for attempted murder charges. Police however asked for more time to conclude their investigations. BHESP is keeping track of the case to see that Monica receives justice.

Picture of Monica showing the stomach wounds she sustained

Monica’s ordeal is just one of the many cases that sex workers in Kenya undergo trying to fend for themselves. Sex workers talk of their dilemmas and risks of trading in sex and mentioned rape, sex without condoms, police arrest, and physical beatings by clients as common experiences.

A recent publication on dangers faced by sex workers in Nairobi’s informal settlements stated that when articulating this asymmetrical relationship, female sex workers frequently used terms like they are ‘‘controlled’’, ‘‘humiliated’’, ‘‘dishonored’’ and ‘‘endangered’’ by their male clients

Female sex workers from Mombasa and Naivasha expressed similar sentiments, affirming the dangers they are exposed to and the low status that clients accord them. Informants in the publication framed this experience broadly as ‘‘being used badly’’ by clients.

“We are beaten, we are used badly just because a man has spent money on us and thinks he can do anything he wants” a sex worker was quoted by the publication.

Men’s desire for unprotected sex and arguments overpayment often triggered conflict, including threats, intimidation, and violence.

Majority of sex workers whose rights are violated believed that it was pointless seeking justice against perpetrators of violence. According to them, sex work is socially stigmatized and given its criminalization; female sex workers are powerless and lack the credibility to bring a charge against offenders.

It was apparent that many were also reluctant to report cases for fear of being intimidated, blamed or for inviting prostitution-related charges. As a result, victims of violence often suffer in silence.

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