Covid-19 hit the world by storm. The virus has had adverse effects on everyone. Countries all over the world have imposed lockdown and curfews. With this decree in place, sex workers are not able to earn their daily bread. Most customers are following the stringent measures in place to avoid contracting the virus, a move that greatly discourages prostitution.
In Kenya the oldest profession is illegal. It is mostly viewed under moral lenses hence the verdict. Although not by federal law it is illegal to profit from the prostitution of others, and to aid, abet, compel or incite prostitution. It is estimated that in-country has 133,675 prostitutes. All of whom got into the business because of one reason or the other. Prostitution unlike the white-collar jobs which are easily gravitated to is viewed by many as a job on its own. One which demands the respect that it deserves.
With the pandemic came a number of changes which greatly affected the business. Most customers are now in the confines of their home. Everyone is practising social distancing at their level best. The main fear being brutality at the hands of police officers who patrol at night more than the virus. On a normal day, a sex worker in the Nairobi CBD would make three thousand shillings a night. This translates to twenty-one thousand shillings a week. Most of this money caters for different bills. Guards who keep them safe at night have to get a share, the Madam, who is the owner of the brothel gets a huge chunk of the cake leaving the girl or boy with nothing but scraps.
With the pandemic, this is nearly impossible. Most of them hardly meet any customers. Some due to separation have started making house visits to customers, putting themselves and the clientele at risk of contracting the deadly virus. Their main reason being hunger. Sex workers have found innovative ways of getting to clients. In Japan, most of them have moved online. A move that has yield fruits as they get customers who pay for the different services they offer. Unlike many countries, the Japanese government has provided sex workers with financial aid a move that has been criticised as the funds are said to be scarce where the pandemic is concerned.
In France, sex workers are seeking support from the government during this period. Although it's unlikely that they will get funding, they have proved to be such a movement that is making an impact and demanding fair treatment like other citizens. Most sex workers gravitated to the trade as it is a means to an end. A means of earning a livelihood. A shot at better things in life.
In Kenya the case is dire. Sex workers who dare to traverse the Nairobi streets at night are arrested and taken to government facilities where they are forced to quarantine. The work is still not recognized in Kenya hence the mistreatment. Many civil organisations have tried to fight for their rights but in vain. In my country #nightworkisstillwork does not apply.