Sex workers down tools to protest surge in femicide

By , K24 Digital
On Thu, 18 Jan, 2024 16:42 | 2 mins read
Starlet Wahu and Rita Waeni who were recently murdered in short-term rental apartments in Nairobi's South B and Roysambu respectively. PHOTOS/Instagram (@wahu_starlet_), X (@Goddie_Ke)

Thousands of sex workers drawn from the Coast region have downed their tools in protest of increased cases of femicide in the country.

Nkoko Injuu Africa Executive Director Maryline Laini said that members of her organization will not be offering sexual services to their clients in solidarity with the family of 20-year-old Rita Waeni who is believed to have been murdered last Sunday at a short-term rental house in Nairobi.

Nkoko Injuu Africa is a nongovernmental organization that champions the rights of sex workers within the Coast region.

"We will be joining other civil societies from today to protest the death of Waeni and that of Starlet Wahu and many other women who have been murdered within a span of one year. This way we will be condemning the deaths of young women and girls who are murdered due to the type of work they do," she said.

Laini noted that the protest was also meant to push the government to offer sex workers security and safe working space.

"Sex workers are taxpayers, we pay for taxes. We take care of our families through our work we need protection while at work just like any other worker in the country we need assurance of our safety while going on with our duties as well," she noted.

Nkoko Injuu Africa Executive Director Maryline Laini at a past event. PHOTO/ Sophie Njoka

Laini called on members of her organization to restrain themselves from offering sexual services to their clients in solidarity with the feminist march set for January 27.

"I call upon our members to stay away from their workplaces, not to involve themselves in any sexual activities from today up to when the march is held. This way we will be advocating for safe working spaces and also telling the world that we are tired of the killings targeting women in this country," the Nkoko Injuu Africa Executive Director stated.

"We are aware that during this period we will be unable to provide for our families but this move is for a worthy cause where Kenyans should know that we need to be accorded the right to life no matter the nature of our work," she added.

Laini stressed that the latest spate of women killings in the country continued to cause fear among sex workers who remained vulnerable due to the nature of their work.

"We are no longer safe, the deaths targeting women are alarming. Our members are reporting to work but we do not feel safe while there. We need assurance from the country's security apparatus that our lives are protected while out there fending for our families," she added.

Rita Waeni's death has ignited anti-femicide campaigns across the country.

In Mombasa, the Pwani Feminist Future Alliance has organized protests to condemn the rampant killings of women on January 27.

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