Written by Courtesy of the Behind the Mask Sunday, 18 December 2011 06:51
This year the International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers will be marked on Saturday, December 17.
In Nairobi, the event will run from 9am to 5pm and will be hosted by The Kenya Sex Workers Alliance (KESWA), in collaboration with civil society organizations, human rights organizations, and several dynamic individuals and volunteers who have been working hard to make the day a success.
The commemoration of the day will start with a silent public procession; starting at the city’s Freedom Corner at 8:30am and ending at Charter Hall where planned activities will take place.
The event is free and open to the public.
Melissa Wainaina of Behind the Mask spoke to Daughtie Ogutu, the assisting project coordinator of the event about the movement and plans for the day.
Below are extracts of that interview:
Tell us about what you expect to see on Saturday?
Sex workers from various parts of the country will converge at 8am in Nairobi at the Freedom Corner, which is a historical place in Kenya that symbolizes Liberation.
We will then walk about 1km to Charter Hall which is next to the [Nairobi] Mayor’s Office, where we will have sex workers sharing experiences, staging a fashion show, and performing dance, poetry, and drama for the public.
What is significant about the day?
The International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers demonstration is about making sex work visible. Many times sex workers are known or considered to be secretive.
Society has turned its back on sex workers, no one speaks about them or even dares to intervene when a sex worker is abused or killed. The demonstration serves as a message to the rest of the world to speak out on behalf of sex workers. They are part of our community and they are our brothers, sisters, mothers and so on.
What issues does the sex worker movement tackle?
We address human rights violations that are suffered like murder, rape, torture, inhuman or degrading treatment, by police, clients and so on.
We also try to tackle the issue of decriminalization of sex work. We seek to have society at large recognize sex worker as work. We also hope to have a sex workers union and joining trade unions.
How has the sex work movement evolved?
The Kenyan sex work movement is very progressive and is spearheaded by a powerful team of passionate sex workers and organizations who have formed KESWA that is also part of the larger African Sex Workers Alliance – ASWA.
What, in your opinion needs to be done to raise awareness towards sex worker rights?
The community needs to be sensitized more on sex worker rights and we need to come up with policy reforms so as to enforce the rights of sex workers.
What is the message of the planned event on Saturday December 17th?
“My body, my choice” is the slogan that translates as sex workers having made their own choices on how they want to use their bodies and are demanding that their choices be respected.
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