Commercial sex workers in Mombasa have appealed to the National and County Governments to provide them with basic necessities, including food, after nightclubs and entertainment joints were ordered shut by Governor Ali Hassan Joho on March 14.
The National Government, through the Ministry of Health, also directed citizens to stay indoors, unless it is mandatory that they work from their workstations. All these measures, both levels of government say, will help minimise the spread of coronavirus.
And now, sex workers from Mombasa lament that the directives have seen their “businesses” stalling, and their clients reducing significantly.
Led by Mvita Sub-County commercial sex workers representative, Phyllis Karuku, the women say the stay-at-home order has made it difficult for them to earn and feed their families, given the men they are targeting are hardly on the streets.
“Business has completely stalled. Our regular clients are not walking around on the streets,” said Karuku.
“The government has encouraged Kenyans to work from home. However, our job relies heavily on moving around. But again, we cannot move around because nightclubs, bars, lodgings and many other entertainment joints have been ordered closed. Now that we cannot fend for our families, how does the government expect us to feed our children? I urge the county and national governments to identify and provide us with food, given our business is seriously affected by their directives,” added Karuku.
“If the State won’t heed our pleas, then we might be forced to fully go out there and look for the clients.”
The sex workers’ rep, however, says a few of their members, who live alone, have managed to bring into their houses customers.
“We urge them [sex partners] to sanitise their hands before we offer our services to them. Some of our clients understand the importance of doing that [sanitisation], whereas others do not,” said Karuku.