Commercial sex work as a health hazard among female commercial sex workers; a case study of nairobi city
Walla, Mary k
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This paper focuses on female Commercial Sex Workers (CSWs) in Nairobi. The purpose of this study was to describe the use of lCT in commercial sex work, and the health risks that the commercial sex workers face during their operations. The study was guided by the following objectives: 1) to establish the current use of lCT in commercial sex work industry; 2) to establish the effect of prostitution on the spread of STDs and HlV/AlD'S among the commercial sex workers; 3) to determine the health precautions taken by commercial sex workers operating in Nairobi City and 4) to assess ways in which commercial sex workers cope with the associated health-related challenges in Nairobi City. The study was carried out among the CSWs operating in Nairobi City in Kenya. A cross sectional quantitative survey research design was used for the study. Qualitative research method was adopted to enrich quantitative data. The targeted population for the study was female commercial sex workers operating in Nairobi City. The unit of analysis was prostitution as a health hazard among the prostitutes. The study utilized two sources of data that is primary and secondary sources. A total of 100 respondents were targeted by the study out of which 71 responded giving a response rate of 71%. Snowball sampling technique was used to reach the respondents. The study also collected data from 5 watchmen and 4 bouncers who were purposively selected as key informants out of the original target of 12. The main data collection technique for the study was personal interviews which were in form of schedule-structured interview for the prostitutes and semi-structured interview for key informants. On the demographic characteristics of the respondents, the study found that majority 50 (70%) of commercial sex workers were relatively young the average age being 28 years with a standard deviation of 1.2. The trade is dominated by single females since virtually no African male would allow their wives to engage in prostitution while in marriage. Further, more than half 36 (51%) of the sample reported to have children of their own, with a range of 1-4 children which is the normal fertility rate expected for a woman in urban area in Kenya. Most important, a bulk 58 (82%) of CSWs have at least secondary level of education. On the current use of ICT in commercial sex work, the study found that 62 (87%) of the sampled respondents used mobile phone to make transactions and reach their clients in Nairobi city. This was evidenced by the fact that 39 (55%) of the respondents used social sites such as facebook, twitter, badoo, tagged and emails to get their clients. Regarding the effect of prostitution on the spread of STDs and HIVIAIDS, the study found that majority 67 (94%) of the respondents indicated that it poses health risks. Commercial sex work exposed the participants to diseases such as HIVIAIDS as indicated by 72%. They were also exposed to STDs such as syphilis, gonorrhea and herps. The following health precautions were taken by prostitutes: visiting Sex Workers Outreach Programs (SWOP) clinics for check up and treatments in case of infection or exposure to unprotected sex as indicated by 42 (59.2%) of the respondents and use of condoms as indicated by 54 (76.1 %) of the respondents. The study finally found that the coping mechanisms used by prostitutes included: use of ARVs among those infected by HIV/AIDs, formation of small teams for security purposes, taking alcohol, chewing miraa and reducing the number of clients. The study recommended that government of Kenya should come up with more focused strategies to tackle the driving forces to prostitution such poverty and low income. It was also recommended that NGOs, donors, community and government should introduce capacity building programs for CSWs which will enable them acquire useful skills which are marketable in their lives. The study further recommended that communities should make deliberate efforts to reduce the rise of single motherhood in contemporary society which is a strong driving force to commercial sex work. Finally, the study recommended that the government should come up with a minimum pay policy to minimize exploitation and enable all Kenyans in employment to earn a reasonable pay.