, NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 3 – Atheists in Kenya (AIK) now want the Nairobi County Assembly to repeal a law it passed last week prohibiting commercial sex work in the Kenyan capital.
Terming the legislation as retrogressive, AIK said in a statement Sunday that the law violates human and civil rights of commercial sex workers insisting that sex trade will not end in the near future.
“We are asking the Nairobi County Assembly to repeal this law within 14 days, or face unspecified action aimed at protecting the rights of prostitutes in Nairobi,” Harrison Muia, the association’s president said in the statement.
Muia further said that no law has succeeded to stop the practice in the past suggesting that the assembly should instead work on legalizing the same.
Commercial sex is a service industry like any other, he argued.
“Nobody’s human or civil rights should be violated on the basis of their trade, occupation, work, calling or profession,” Muia’s statement read.
“Sex work is not going to disappear anytime soon; so instead of banning prostitution, we should work towards making it a fully legal industry. We believe that this is what most sex workers want as well,” the statement further read.
According to AIK, the practice was in no way illegal provided those involved are consenting adults.
The legalization of commercial sex, Muia said, will serve to protect the rights of sex workers from crimes such as sexual harassment, sexual abuse and rape.
“An adult who chooses to engage in sexual activity, whether for recreation, procreation or in exchange for something of value, makes a private, individual choice that should not be subject to criminal sanctions.”
According to AIK, any attempt to ban on prostitution would curtail on individual autonomy and privacy of resident of Nairobi.
The ban also unfairly targets women according to AIK who make up the bulk of those engaging in the sex trade.
The association however recommends the introduction of taxes by the county government, a move that could boost the revenue of the devolved government.
“It is our firm position, therefore, that instead of banning prostitution, Nairobi County Assembly should pass enabling legislation to facilitate the smooth running of brothels so as to enable the government to exercise more control over the sex industry,” AIK reiterated.
According to the National AIDS Control Council (NACC), HIV prevalence among sex workers is among the highest among various groups, the Kenya HIV County Profiles (2016) capping it at 29.3 per cent compared to the national average prevalence of 5.9 per cent.
The national average declined significantly according to the report having been recorded at 6.04 per cent in 2014.
Among male prostitutes, the prevalence was recorded at 18.2 per cent in 2016 with that of people injecting themselves with drugs captured at 18.3.
According to the 2016 profile, the HIV and AIDS burden in the country was estimated to have accounted for twenty-nine per cent of annual adult deaths, twenty per cent of maternal mortality, and fifteen per cent of deaths of children under the age of five.
“The epidemic has also negatively affected the country’s economy by lowering per capita output by 4.1 per cent. Kenya has an estimated 71,034 new HIV infections among adults and about 6,613 new infections among children annually,” the 2016 report detailed.
During the commemoration of World AIDS Day on Friday, First Lady Margaret Kenyatta rallied for concerted efforts to achieve zero new HIV/AIDS infections in the country even as she noted the diseases remained a threat to the nation.
“This day also affords us with yet another opportunity to renew our resolve towards that bold and audacious vision of zero new infections,” she appealed.