Prostitution is illegal in most African nations but this has not deterred sex workers from practicing it. Some are forced into prostitution due to poverty whereas others do it because they want to.
Well, recently, Members of Nairobi County Assembly led by MCA for Woodley Kenyatta Golf Course ward, Mwangi Njihia passed a motion prohibiting commercial sex work in Kenya especially in the capital city.
The main reason why this was tabled is that MCAs think the number of commercial sex workers has increased hence increased transmission of Sexually Transmitted Diseases and high levels of immorality.
This did not go down well with a section of Kenyans,notably the likes of nominated Senator Millicent Omanga and Atheists Kenya president Harrison Mumia, who say that banning commercial sex will not end sex trade and that sex workers should be left alone. They advised them to legalize prostitution in the country.
“THE NAIROBI MCAs GOT IT WRONG”.
I have learnt of the unanimous decision by the Nairobi county MCAs to declare prostitution illegal in Nairobi county. There is more than meets the eye in this development. For starters, who is a prostitute? There are many who sell sex to their husbands back at home, how do you ban that? There are many who marry due to money influence, how do you ban that?
There are high end clubs where women meet clients, how do you define such and ban it? Old men date young girls daily, is it not prostitution, how do you ban that? This idea of burying our heads in the sand and pulling our triggers towards the young girls on the streets is not only unfair but is inappropriate by all measure. These girls are some of the poorest in the city.Many do not do it because they enjoy it but simply because they need to survive.
A unanimous decision to ban an activity that involves a willing buyer willing seller is a matter of human rights infringement and requires serious recheck and analysis. I am of the view that all that is needed is to have an organization to champion the rights of these women and to teach them how to trade safely. The clients too must be cognizant of the fact that the ladies are human beings and require humane treatment. I strongly oppose the move and demand that these women be given audience so that a way forward is found through a proper organizational framework that works for all,” wrote Millicent Omanga.
And a post by Harrison on Atheists Kenya Facebook page read;
“We are utterly shocked and dismayed by the passing of a motion by the Nairobi County Assembly on Friday, 1st December, 2017 purporting to prohibit commercial sex work in Nairobi County. The passing of this law is unconstitutional, illegal, untenable and retrogressive. We are asking the Nairobi County Assembly to repeal this law within 14 days, or face unspecified action aimed at protecting the rights of prostitutes in Nairobi.
Nobody’s human or civil rights should be violated on the basis of their trade, occupation, work, calling or profession. It should not be lost on the Nairobi County MCA’s that no law has ever succeeded in stopping prostitution anywhere. Sex work is not going to disappear anytime soon; so instead of banning prostitution, we should work towards making it a fully legal industry. We believe that this is what most sex workers want as well.
Prostitution is the provision of sexual services for negotiated payment between consenting adults. So defined, prostitution is a service industry like any other in which people exchange skills for money or other reward. Workers in the sex industry deserve the same rights as workers in any other trade, including the right to legal protection from crimes such as sexual harassment, sexual abuse and rape.
An adult who chooses to engage in sexual activity, whether for recreation, procreation or in exchange for something of value, makes a private, individual choice that should not be subject to criminal sanctions. Our rights to individual autonomy and privacy allow us all to make these decisions as adults.
As advocates for equality, we know that anti-prostitution laws disproportionately target women. In the face of high unemployment rates in Kenya and no viable alternatives for earning a living, sex work indeed offers one of the more stable and accessible ways to financially support women and their families. Nairobi County could even benefit from sex work by taxing commercial sex workers!
It is our firm position, therefore, that instead of banning prostitution, Nairobi County Assembly should pass enabling legislation to facilitate the smooth running of brothels so as to enable the government to exercise more control over the sex industry.”