Sex workers in Nairobi will lose over Sh20 million in revenue in the next 30 days that bars and brothels will remain closed, says Kenya Community Sex Workers Coordinator, Fellister Abdalla.
The closure follows President Uhuru Kenyatta’s July 27 order barring the sale of alcohol in restaurants and eateries for one month, the indefinite closure of all bars and an extension of nighttime curfew to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
The sex workers now say the restrictions and bans have left thousands of women who earn a living from ‘treating’ men Nairobi suffering from ‘acute dry spell’ without cash to pay rent and feed their children.
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“The girls will lose more than Sh20 million during the period because the bars and joints where they used to operate have been closed. It basically means they cannot access their workplaces,” she explained
Abdalla says so dire is the situation that some of them have been forced to solicit customers in estates where they live, which exposes them to violence. There are those, she says, who have lost their lives after demanding payment for services rendered from mean clients.
“It is really tough out there, especially when you consider the number of girls on the streets who directly earn a living from clubs. I know the president means well, considering that human lives are at stake. But I also urge him to think about sex workers and their children who are virtually sleeping on empty stomachs.
“The president can even support us with food while Nairobi Woman Ether Passsaris should think about us because I believe she understands women issues,” Abdalla said.
A spot check by The Nairobain established that clubs and lodgings were closed immediately after the president’s warning that those who did not comply with the directive would have their licences permanently withdrawn, especially after the no-nonsense Nairobi Metropolitan Services (NMS) boss Major-General Mohammed Badi vowed to personally enforce the directive.
Before the directive, sex workers would wait for revellers outside pubs or join them at the table and urge them to have their ‘dipsticks checked for oil’ at nearby lodgings.
The Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) CEO recently revealed that there are 20,000 registered sex workers aged between 18 and 35 years who are based in Nairobi.
On a good day, especially at the end of the month, some earn as much Sh10,000.
Also affected by the closure of pubs are thousands of waiters, waitresses, taxi drivers, food vendors, DJs and people whose livelihood is directly linked to booze and pubs.