Barriers female sex workers face when exiting sex work: the case of Nairobi city county
Gakaria, Elizabeth J. Njoki
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Sex work is a purely commercial transaction in which individuals make a living by having sex with different partners in exchange for money, drugs or other valuables. Though sex work is widely vilified, it remains an active and thriving market across the globe. Women of every education level and family background are involved in the sex trade. This is because it affords unskilled women one of the best opportunities to make a living wage. The profession is low skill, labour intensive, predominantly female, and well paid. The major reason women enter sex work is money. Other factors can include excitement, encouragement from other sex workers, a way to seek affection and freedom to work one’s own hours to accommodate other responsibilities such as child care or studies.The study investigated the barriers female sex workers face when exiting sex work. It focused on female sex workers based in Nairobi County. It was guided by three main objectives; that is assessing how financial instability, flexible working hours and camaraderie influenced the exit of sex workers from sex work. Descriptive survey design was adopted for the study. Semi structured and in-depth interviews were used as the principal data collection tools. The main findings of the study were that financial instability, camaraderie and flexible working hours all combine and interact, sometimes reinforcing each other to prevent exit of women from sex work. The study recommends that there needs to be a deeper understanding of the variables surrounding gender issues in sex work by the policy makers and organizations that cater for sex workers. This is necessary to plan for appropriate interventions to improve the plight of women who want to exit sex work. Furthermore, the Ministry of Gender, Sports and Culture should institute appropriate policies and infrastructure to support the women who desire to exit sex work. Further research areas have also been highlighted.