KENYA: Safety of sex workers and gay people
The Global Network of Sex Work Projects condemns the current situation of sex worker activists in Kenya and the harassment being experienced by human rights defenders in Nairobi.
On Thursday, February 2nd– progressive civil society organisations in Nairobi marched to voice their concern around the harassment and violation of the rights of marginalised persons such as street families, hawkers, LGBTI communities and sex workers, by the Nairobi City Council.
As a result of this march, the Mayor of Nairobi allegedly stated that he believed that “sex work should be legalised”. Following this announcement, and after two days of extensive media and television coverage, male sex workers were highlighted on Kenyan Television Network (KTN)’s feature ‘Muffled Killer’. The programme looked at issues such as health, HIV, human rights and the decriminalisation of sex work.
The result of this exposure culminated in a series of threats towards sex work/human rights activists who are in the forefront of the campaign for human rights and the decriminalisation of sex work. These threats included threats to life and property, of bodily harm and sexual violence and the use of abusive language.
Consequently many high-profile activists are currently seeking temporary refuge in spaces that are deemed to be safe.
The Constitution of Kenya allows for freedom of association, expression and the right to protection under the Law. Human rights are inherent to all persons, irrespective of their sexual orientation or identity or choice of work or profession.
The network of sex workers in Africa, and their partners are deeply concerned with the harassment of vulnerable groups including male sex workers and their leaders and urges those in Civil Society to defend human rights, dignity for all, and self determination; through condemning, in the strongest terms, the actions of those who persistently undermine sex workers efforts to decriminalise sex work.