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Residents say banning sex trade will not work

By Jennifer Anyango | Published Wed, December 6th 2017 at 00:00, Updated December 5th 2017 at 20:42 GMT +3
A young woman waits for male clients on a street. [File, Standard]

In summary

  • Nairobians argue banning prostitution, the oldest profession in the world, will be a tough call and might not succeed
  • Last week county assembly passed a motion prohibiting commercial sex

The law seeking to prohibit commercial sex in the county has elicited mixed reactions from residents, with majority saying it is bound to fail.

Nominated Senator Millicent Omanga was among the first to react.

She termed the move as unfair and inappropriate, adding that what was needed was an organisation to teach sex workers how to trade safely and champion their rights.

"The clients too must be cognisant of the fact that the women 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 organisational framework that works for all," said the senator.

Edwin Ouko, a resident, said prohibiting commercial sex in the city was not going to work because there was no law that had succeeded in stopping the practice in the past.

"Banning the oldest profession in the world is not going to work. You cannot prove prostitution in court, one can only be charged for loitering," Ouko said.

Pay taxes

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He added that the county should instead see that as an opportunity to generate income because sex workers were willing to pay tax.

"Even if banned, prostitutes will still go about their businesses. Kenya will not be the first or the last country to legalize prostitution, In Ethiopia and Senegal prostitution is legal to people above 18 but owning a brothel is illegal," Ouko said.

Another resident, Eliud Ayuma said this was not going to bear any fruit.

"It was there even before Jesus Christ came to the world. What they are doing is not going to work," Ayuma said.

He noted that there was no way the practice was illegal if the people involved were two consenting adults.

"Furthermore, legalising it will protect sex workers from crimes such as sexual abuse, rape and sexual harassment," Ayuma said.

The county assembly on Friday last week passed a motion prohibiting commercial sex in the city. The motion received overwhelming support from MCAs who complained that the practice was being normalized with most spas, homes and restaurants in high-end estates turning into brothels.

Upper Savannah MCA Elijah Omung'ala, who supports the ban, argued that prostitution is against the moral fibre of the society.

Lazy people

"I think there are other ways to make money other than prostitution. It is only people who are lazy that turn to prostitution," Omung'ala said in a telephone interview yesterday.

He added that if prostitution was allowed, girls would shy away from working and turn to prostitution.

"Regardless of whether the trade has been there since the olden days, a law must be there, and it will be implemented to the letter," Omung'ala said.

This is not the first time leaders have fought prostitution in the city. In 2012, the Nairobi Mayor George Aladwa refused a plea by sex workers to operate freely in the city. He warned the council would not allow sex trade to flourish under any circumstances.

Aladwa said commercial sex workers had requested his office to turn a section of Koinange Street into a Red Light Street.

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