Fall 2023 Sex Worker Advocate Interviews

Mukoya Interview



Mercy Mukoya is a Kenyan sex worker advocate with a focus in health services. Currently, she is pursuing a nursing degree in America. Her advocacy work began with the Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme in 2015, but Mukoya has been passionate about improving medical care for sex workers for most of her life. Motivated by her cousin’s personal experience as a sex worker and the impact of contracting HIV, Mukoya recognized the need for change at a young age. Mukoya started in the organization by volunteering as a peer educator for several years, eventually receiving funding for her nursing degree through the program to further her education and enhance her ability to contribute to advocacy efforts. Her work within the Bar Hostess Programme involved educating sex workers on HIV prevention and how to access screenings and other health resources while navigating the complex legal and social obstructions Kenyan sex workers grapple with. Some of her duties included condom use education, condom distribution, conversing with policy makers about access to sexual health resources, and maintaining a dialogue between her organization and law enforcement. Mukoya’s advocacy work underscores her dedication to enhancing health care rights for Kenyan sex workers. She helps to run a small walk-in clinic and economic support program that offers alternative/supplemental jobs to sex workers and helps cultivate business skills.

Mukoya places strong emphasis on the various barriers sex workers face when trying to obtain medical treatment. The criminalization of sex work in Kenya hinders healthcare access as workers are not able to provide a valid occupation when asked without risking arrest. Additionally, age is an important factor that endangers the health of workers. In Kenya, the age of legal consent for healthcare services is eighteen. However, the average age of sex workers that the Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme works with are between the ages of fifteen and twenty-nine. Some sex workers are as young as twelve. The age of consent being eighteen prevents a large number of sex workers from accessing health protection that is crucial to their profession. In a field of work which involves exchange of bodily fluids, penetration, and intimate touch, STD and STI screening, contraceptives, and access to pre-exposure prophylaxis are necessary to ensure safety. Understandably, it is often difficult or impossible for younger workers to obtain parental consent. Younger sex workers also struggle with increased rates of mental illness and substance abuse that need medical attention to successfully address,

The negative connotation around sex work is pervasive. Workers are heavily stigmatized, often judged and mistreated, not believed, or pushed to the back because of a “you did it to yourself” attitude that demonizes the work:

When she went to access [treatment]… she was told [the clinic has it], but they are not for sex workers, because you guys are the ones who went out to look for HIV for yourself. So you’ll get that. They are denied their life saving drug.


In that same vein, Mukoya discussed was how the criminalization of sex work is a catalyst for violence. Street workers often must go to hotels or unfamiliar areas with clients they do not know, risking their safety. Mukoya mentioned that sex workers are frequently murdered, likely as a result of them having to work in secret. In the event that a sex worker feels unsafe, they cannot go to the police for help. Furthermore, Police arrest anyone that they assume to be a sex worker which perpetuates dangerous stereotypes. Mukoya said:

[The police] don’t get you in the act of transacting, like they have not seen you getting money, and [are not] not seeing you having sex. All they assume is that when you’re standing on the street you are transacting. You’re in the transaction business, even if you’re going home, even if you’re coming from a party.”

Mukoya emphasized that being in open and frequent dialogue with law enforcement is an important step on the way to dismantling these discriminatory practices and attitudes. Sex workers and police have to engage with each other in a way that emphasizes civility and mutual respect. Instead of the police harassing and abusing sex workers, they should sit together and come to an agreement, finding a way to better work together. Her organization even spends time volunteering at police stations in order to create a better dynamic and relieve tensions between the two groups. Unfortunately, sex workers are forced to shoulder the burden of correcting the police’s stereotypes of them. The onus is on them to bridge this divide to improve the safety of their peers.

Mukoya firmly believes that advocacy is a continuous practice and lifestyle that must be consciously renewed. Supporting and improving her community is an integral part of her life. She has dedicated an impressive amount of her time and energy to this cause, and encourages others to do the same.




deLancey Fitzpatrick: So we just wanted to start with some general questions about your life. Where are you originally from?


Mercy Mukoya: I’m sorry. What was the question?


deLancey Fitzpatrick: Where are you originally from?


Mercy Mukoya: I’m originally from Kenya. Nairobi, Kenya. East of Africa. I grew up in the countryside of Kenya, but then I moved to Nairobi to study as well as work. And I’ve worked with Bar Hostess implemented support programs since 2015.


deLancey Fitzpatrick: Yeah, okay, great, that’s very interesting. We also wanted to know what daily life looks like for you, just kind of whatever you’re doing in your spare time.


Mercy Mukoya: Okay. So when I started working back then I was volunteering. I started working as a peer educator to train my peers on HIV prevention safety and also accessing how to go and access routine screening for such phones. So I did that for quite a time, and then I went back. I was supported by a support program to go and do my diploma in nursing. So when I went back to school I started doing my deployment nurse thing. But then I was also engaging with my peers in the hotspot, I will call it meet the appliance we call it a hotspot. so I was also engaging my peers in the hotspot, educating them on how to access condoms as well as distributing condoms to my peers in the hot spot to ensure that they were engaging in safe practices. Yeah, and then progressively rose from being a pay volunteer to an educator to a nurse. and I was interested in pursuing my bachelors in nursing. And through the program I was supported to come and do my bachelors here in the US.


Mikayla Aquino: That was so great and interesting to hear. So our next few questions are very similar to like what you already told us just about like your work history and how your advocacy for sex work started, and how that journey started. But because you’ve kind of already touched on that a little bit, maybe can you tell us something about some key things that you’ve learned throughout your work history?


Mercy Mukoya: Oh, I’ve learned a lot. Actually, advocacy is not just a one time thing you’ve I found myself. That advocacy is something that you do on a continuous basis and key things that I have learned. You cannot do advocacy around sex workers’ agenda by yourself. So you have to do it with a lot of community members. So whenever I do my advocacy, I don’t speak for myself. I ensure that I go back to the community, find out what the challenges are. This is what the government has brought to you, so what do we do next? Like I get to collect the voices of the community and be able to advocate for what they need. I amplify their voices. I just don’t speak for myself and what I want. I speak for the community members, what the sex workers want. So I make sure I get to understand what is really the issue, what they really need and then speak to what that is.  To the key people like the policy makers, the donors who actually fund the HIV programming, I get to speak for them. So I’m connecting. I connect between the community and the decision makers. So I also learned that advocacy needs a lot of resources. It’s not a priority for the government in Kenya. Hiv programming and sex work is not an agenda that everyone wants to hear. So all the time, like when you bring up an agenda related to the sex work as they’re like. We have other things to think about and not sex work. So I learned that most of the time when you raise an agenda around 60’clock, you’re not gonna be listened to because I feel like we have a lot of problems. This is just minor. I think they’re choosing to do sex that’s up to them.


Mercy Mukoya: So I have learnt that you have to really push for that agenda. It’s not a one off thing that you go to the government just today and give up on it. You have to keep on reinforcing. We need this. We need this. It means going to the street and campaigning, going to the street and protesting that we need this to be put in place. We need sex success, air V drugs. So I learned that if you just sit there, it doesn’t just end with you saying. The sex workers need to access. HIV. Treatment. Sometimes you need rain to fall. What you want are protests. Write papers. Be knocking on those government offices every now and then. So it’s really a struggle. It’s not something advocacy for, especially for the 60’clock agenda. It is not something that just comes easily; you have to do it over again. Yeah.


Mercy Mukoya: I hope I am answering your questions, and if I’m not, if I’m diverting from the question, remind me to go back to, but if I still don’t get you. Please feel free to tell me.


Palmer Okai: And so next, I kind of just want to ask more about the type of the people you advocate for. So can you tell us a little bit about the sex workers that you are advocating for?


Mercy Mukoya: Okay. I work with specifically female sex workers. They do transactional sex in brothels whereby they go live in the brothels, and maybe come once a month to see their family. Yeah, so we have brothel based sex workers, street based sex workers. We also have home based sex workers. Yeah, so we have, those are the key categories that we work with, and also from the name of the organization that I work with. Bar hostess, empowerment and support program. We also work with sex workers working in the bar. Yes, she works in the bar, but then as a bar hostess, as a bartender she’s also doing transactional sex. So those are the kind of sex workers that I work with, and, we have a cohort like cohorts are the number of sex workers that Bar Hostess have reached toward 20,000 sex workers and 70% of these sex workers are between the age of 15 to 29.


Palmer Okai: Thank you. And so kind of just a follow up on that, do the sex workers, is it like, are they working for someone, and they’re splitting the money, or are they keeping all of the money? How does the pay structure work?


Mercy Mukoya: That’s a good question. So we have a different setup for the street sex workers, especially if you are new in the street. There are those bosses who have been there for long periods, so you have to give them a share of your money for you to be in the street until you get used to the street. That’s where now you can be getting your money by yourself. And for, it depends on the setup of where you do transactional sex from and for the broken best sex workers they work with Madam’s, we call them suits… I don’t know what the right word is for that… suitors or what. Blazers or something, cause they are like their bosses. The boss is in charge of connecting you to, to your client. It’s like a manager in a brothel. They connect you to the client and so when a client comes they’ll be like I have this client, and she’s interested in you as their client. So the money goes to the boss. The boss is the one who decides how much she will give you. And this depends on a lot of things. How much she gives you depends on the number of sex acts like shots. How many shots did you do and also depends on whether you use a condom, or you didn’t use condom because they pay more if you don’t use a condom. Yeah. So it depends and how much you get is dependent on the Madam. Did you satisfy the client? If the client was not satisfied, you don’t get to be paid anything, but if the client is satisfied, the money goes to you directly. And for the home based sex workers, these are the ones like you bring a client to your home, and you do the transaction from your home. Yeah. So the client gets to pay directly to you.


Palmer Okai: That’s interesting. Thank you. And then one more question from me. You’ve mentioned the bar hostesses. I’m assuming they make money from the bar hostess work job. But the other sex workers, are they full-time sex workers? Or do they have other income as well?


Mercy Mukoya: Actually, from our cohort, we have like 60% they have other sources of income and 40% they purely depend on sex work like they leave in the morning, go to the street and wait for the client there. But this other 60%, they have other sources of income. Either they work in a massage parlor and sex work is just sort of an additional services. And the bars they work in the bar, and sex work is just sort of an additional services to supplement their income. Yeah.


Maya Daly: Thank you. I’m gonna be asking just some questions about the reasons why people leave sex work and why they might return to sex work. So you could just elaborate a little bit on how that works.


Mercy Mukoya: Okay. Majority one. Most people engage in sex work because of family responsibility. You have like 5 siblings in your house, or even 7, and you don’t have parents. Now you have to provide for your siblings. So families need to support their family. That’s why you have responsibilities. You have your younger sibling, they want to go to school. You have your parents also depending on you because they can’t go to work. So most of them engage in sex work because of family responsibilities. Secondly, its also related to family responsibility– Poverty. And especially, like right now, the economy is really bad in Kenya and you opt to engage in sex work to get money because you just finished school. Yes, you graduated from. He graduated with your diploma. But you didn’t get a job so easily. Money just goes to set up. And another thing that makes also. And especially young people engaging sex work is peer pressure. You live with your friends, you see your friends every weekend and they do their hair. They have nice phones. You like, okay, so where do you get money? Definitely? Yeah. They tell you we can go with you. I’ll show you. I go to this so peer pressure is also a factor that introduces most people to engage in sex, because you see your friends doing it also. And the fourth one is just also living in. The fourth one is also surrounding, like I have most of my, the client, some of the peers from my group. They grew up in the informal settlement, and they grew up seeing their parents transacting sex. So that’s the only thing that you know as a source of income in the world, because your mother was transacting sex from the house. So you saw it happening. Yeah. So you grow up knowing. Okay? I think when I’m 15, I wanna start making money as my mom also makes money. Yeah. Hmm.


Maya Daly: Just a follow up question to that. Could you speak a little bit about the clients, sex worker connection, like describing maybe like typical clients or sex workers, relationships with those clients, and what certain experience they offer and the general treatment and environment of those.


Mercy Mukoya: I didn’t get your question. Sorry, like.


Maya Daly: Just like the client and sex worker relationship, and how it might differ from client to client, or if they have, like, a repeating client, and how that works. And the sexual experience that happens, what are the dynamics within that?


Mercy Mukoya: Okay for like, when it comes to sex work its purely business. And in the streets you’re not allowed to have sexual relationships with your client. Yeah. So mostly you’ll get that. You have an understanding in some streets like it’s sort of unspoken understanding, the first client that comes will be mine. The second one will be you and the third one, or any client that comes as if it’s an open. It depends on the street or the brothel. It depends. Cause some streets they’re like, if a client comes and they are interested in you. You go regardless. If I did not get a client that day and some streets. They’re like we have to see who’s going first, who’s going? Second, who’s going? Third, yeah. But no, say, sexual relationship is allowed between a client and a sex worker. However, you can have. There are those we call regular clients, and they are those we call casual clients regular clients, they know, like, you know. Every day I’m gonna get mass in that street, or you just call Mercy. She’ll come to you any time. And then casual clients are like that day to day. Clients like you get them day to day plans. They just come, maybe once. And that’s it. Yeah. So there are regular clients and casual clients. Yeah.


deLancey Fitzpatrick: Okay, thank you. I kind of wanted to ask more about the organization that you’re in and what it focuses on. What are the issues within it or issues that you have faced within it?


Mercy Mukoya: Employment support program. It was started in 1997, and we have 4 key focuses around providing medical help to the sex workers. And so we have clinics that are sex worker friendly, we call them drop in centers. These clinics. They are situated in the informal settlements of Nairobi, just to provide the basics. It’s not really a big clinic cause. It’s just a walk in. It’s a drop in center where sex workers can come in, collect condoms. Come in, get sti screening. Come in, get family planning services. They’re working on expounding it. So we provide medical health services to the sex workers and number 2, We also do economic empowerment just to support choices beyond sex work. Because, yes, we are not getting sex workers out of sex work, because this is like we’re not providing an intervention. We are providing choices beyond sex work through providing sex workers with the knowledge on economic empowerment knowledge, on how to start, how one can start a business and maybe gain and supplement to their income knowledge on how to generally business management. We also do a lot of economic empowerment and through funding from different partners to start their own car wash. Yeah, when you look on the website, you’ll see we have a car wash, that is for the sex workers and basic workers. And we tend to get a lot of clients who come in for car wash services. We also do a lot of advocacy around human rights. Yeah, this is really big for us because sex work is illegal in Kenya. So most of the time sex workers are arrested. Because yes, you are not in there. You are not caught in the act, but just when you’re standing on the street dressed in a short dress, they’ll be like you have intentions of doing transactions and you will get arrested. And as an organization, we support sex workers just to build them out because it’s illegal. And once they are arrested, there are a lot of challenges that come with that. So we support each other. We build them out. We have a lawyer that goes to the court in case the case goes to the court and will go there and represent the sex worker. We also do a lot of advocacy, just to create awareness on HIV, prevention, on human rights, on yeah, on E, call on generally things that are related to sex workers. And we do this a lot. Awareness, creation and advocacy through different channels like, we go to radio, just pick about organization. And the sex worker can come in if they need support. We also have this social media platform that we do a lot of awareness creation, because not so many sex workers. I’ve gone to school, for sure. So most people lack knowledge. And as an organization, it’s our mandate to ensure that we educate them. Yeah, on matters to do with HIV prevention and matters to do with accessing their. Yeah. We also do a lot of dressing gender based violence because its workers are highly violated. You agree with a client that you are gonna be paid this amount of money. but when you get to the room the client doesn’t pay you the money after you’ve had sex. They leave you there like. But that’s what you do. Why should I pay you for sex? Okay, so they don’t get paid at the end of the day. So that’s gender based violence. So we do a lot of monitoring. So in case someone experiences gender based violence. There’s a hotline number that they can reach us. And then we’ll respond to that. Yeah, we have also had cases where 6 workers were murdered. A lot of cases, a lot of sex workers have been murdered. Yeah, they go to the clients home, and then they get mad. So as an organization I need to also respond to those cases and try to seek justice for that. Yeah. So for what you also say, ask about the challenges we are trying to address Young.


deLancey Fitzpatrick: Yes, just going off of what you just said. I was just wondering, how would you say that workers protect themselves from their clients or how do they set up boundaries or protections?


Mercy Mukoya: Yeah, it’s sometimes really hard, yeah, it’s really hard to protect the cause, especially for the casual clients. They have their ill motives. especially for the cases that we had sex workers being murdered. You agree with our client, and then, when you reach the hotel they don’t pay you. You try asking for your money, you are stabbed to death. We are always encouraging as an organization. We encourage our people that when they go to give services to their clients, at least let your members on the same street as you know where you are. Yeah, which I don’t know or just takes like, when you see, a client is getting aggressive, just text to a hotline number, and someone will be on the watch out. Yeah. So we encourage that by then it’s really a hard thing to control. For sure, it’s really a hard thing, especially when no one listens to you. cause when you go to the government they like. But you guys, that’s illegal. So no one listens. Yeah, no one is there to help us. So it’s quite a challenge there.


deLancey Fitzpatrick: Thank you for that answer. I was also wondering with the organization, what would you say other than that are the best and most satisfying things within that job?


Mercy Mukoya: The most satisfying thing, especially me being from a medical background, is just being able to provide healthcare, we had so many sex workers not accessing. She’s a sex worker. She got infected with HIV, but she cannot go to take care , because she doesn’t know where to go and get it when she goes to the public. We have public health facilities. She encounters Stigma and discrimination. There was this scenario that a lady had gotten HIV When she went to access airways like she was not given, she was told we have them but they are not for sex workers, because you guys are the ones who went out to look for HIV for yourself. So you’ll get that. They are denied their  life saving medicine. So we are just able to provide a fee to the sex worker and also provide prevention for the sex workers. It’s really been satisfying. I know you’ve heard about pre-exposure prophylaxis. So as an organization, we provide that as well. And I’m an advocate for pre-exposure profiles. I’ve advocated so much for it, and just seeing a number of sex workers coming out like mercy, I don’t want to get HIV. And I’ve heard you talk about Field, that can’t prevent me from HIV. How can I get it? I immediately link them to the clinic. They go get it 3 years later. They’re like, Thank you, Mercy, because now I’m doing transactional sex. I don’t care, I’m not scared about getting HIV, because I know I’ve protected myself. That has really been satisfying. Yeah. And also seeing sex workers investing, starting like this. This, we call it choices beyond. It’s a group of young sex workers. They came together, started a business of making so just seeing them build something out of that. It’s really been satisfying to me. Yeah.


deLancey Fitzpatrick: Yeah, that sounds very nice. Earlier, I was asking about some challenges or issues in your job. Is it challenging? If so, would you mind expanding on that?


Mercy Mukoya: Yeah, there’s a lot, first of all it’s illegal. So no matter how much you go to the government, they’ll say how can we listen to you? And you know very well it’s against the laws. So we have. 6. 6 is 60’clock, is big is criminalized in Kenya. So that’s why most. And when they are detained they are denied access to treatment. So that’s a challenge. Imagine just you, your your HIV positive, or you’re also maybe on Sti, an Sti treatment. You get detained, and then you don’t get to be given your maids. Yeah, that will do harm to your health and also stigma and discrimination. Once you just tell someone like introduces all like I’m saying so. I’m a sex worker. Everyone will look at you like, oh, okay, so you are that person who is doing that job. So there’s a lot of stigma discrimination associated with sex work, and also just and also around healthcare, a sex worker working in a health facility. And they ask, So what do you do for work? Most? Hardly. Will you ever hear someone saying, What do you do for work? I’m afraid. Soccer, hardly, because once you just say I do sex work. They start looking at all those big diagnoses for you. And there was this incident that one of the sex workers went to access health services and all the health care workers called each other like, Hey, come and see, she has an sti. Oh, come and see, she has this happy come and see. Yeah. So there’s a lot of stigma and discrimination associated with sex work and insecurities as well as I’ve mentioned, most of its workers have been mad. Yeah, they are really scary stories. When you be you we’ve been encountering. And you’re like, why would someone do that to someone so insecurities? There’s a lot of insecurities surrounding sex work. and also mental health is an A is a big challenge. Right now, facing types workers. yeah, home. Your family don’t want to see you. You can’t access medical services. So there’s a a client. Maybe you’ve been abused by your clients. You’ve been raped by a client. So there’s a lot. Mental health is also one of the things that sex workers are facing. And when it comes to accessing health. again, you can’t go and get insurance, medical insurance and view listing sexual work. Come, they’ll be like how can how can you make money like to sustain an insurance, a medical cover from sex work? So definitely be denied the services.


deLancey Fitzpatrick: That was a really helpful answer. Thank you. And then just one last question from me. What would you want someone to know if they’re interested in becoming a sex worker advocate?


Mercy Mukoya: What would I do? I’m sorry? What was that?


deLancey Fitzpatrick: What would you want people to know if they’re interested in becoming a sex worker advocate?


Mercy Mukoya: Oh, that’s an interesting question. Okay, okay, I think just to know and like, I only say. If you want to become an advocate, don’t look at that. 6 workers that pass in there because 6 workers are human beings just like they’re human beings, their sisters they’re brothers. Yeah, they are also siblings, like, I always put myself in their shoes. Yeah, just, I would say, maybe treat sex workers as human beings. They’re not just like a number or yes, we need 60’clock to be tested. Oh, yes, we need sex work. So I think that’s key.


deLancey Fitzpatrick: Thank you.


Mercy Mukoya: You’re welcome.


Nicole Tofan: And a lot of my questions you’ve already spoken a little bit about, considering how sex work is criminalized in Kenya, and how it affects your work?


Mercy Mukoya: Oh, yes, it’s illegal, it’s illegal, it’s illegal, transacting sex for money. There’s a actually an act against it written in the laws of Kenya, like work that is not permitted to get money like sex work. So it’s a criminal offense to transact sex in exchange for money. Yeah. And the funny thing about it is that they don’t get you in the act of transacting, like they have not seen you getting money, and are not seeing you having sex. All they assume is that when you’re standing on the street you are transacting. You’re in the transaction business, even if you’re going home. even if you’re coming from a party. Yeah. So that’s really, that’s really the way. It’s been clearly highlighted in the Kenyan policy that it’s illegal, so sex workers are mostly arrested and police go around just collecting girls sitting anywhere, in the street especially, or they just go into the brothel and they arrest people. Yeah. That really affects our work, because no one will listen to sex workers for sure. That’s a case that cannot go through the court and get fair judgment. Even if you go to court, you won’t get fair judgment, because it’s illegal. So you’ll get more sex workers who don’t like pursuing a case to get to a hearing because they know it’s illegal. So you’ll get that. You’d also rather bribe the police to not be taken to prison or not to be taken to court. So that’s really a big challenge for sex workers. Yeah. And even when taken to court, their judgment won’t be fair. You’ll end up paying the government for engaging in something that is illegal.


Nicole Tofan: Okay, thank you. And then, because it’s so illegal, and because there’s so much stigma around sex work, do you feel that you’ve been treated differently as a sex worker advocate?


Mercy Mukoya: Oh, no! And especially even now, especially when you just tell someone what my name is, even if people don’t see me with them they’re like, oh, so you are the one who supports people who do sex work. But yeah. So is there still a lot of stigma associated with that? Yeah.


Nicole Tofan: Thank you, and then one last question is just like, if you yourself have had encounters with law enforcement and being a sex worker advocate, how that has gone, and whether it was like a positive or a negative experience and why.


Mercy Mukoya: Oh, I’ve had negative experiences, really bad negatives, really because of one of the girls that was arrested. And I went there just to find out what was, why was she arrested? And if anything like, what’s the bail that we can pay to get released, and the police were like, you know what you’re just, you’re one of them. We need you also here. Yes, you are the one encouraging sex work. Most of the time people we work to support, they’re like, we encourage sex work. So I’ve had incidents like that with our police. They almost arrested me, and it wasn’t good, for sure. Yeah, cause they were like, you’re encouraging sex work. So it was, really it was a bad experience and I had a good experience there because we tried to work with police as well. Good experience! It’s been, where we meet them, the police have a sitting. We just have a sitting over lunch and talk to the police, where, like, you guys, are human beings, we are human beings. So let’s discuss our issues. When you harass us, when you arrest us we feel bad, but we also, we are just there to afford food for our family, and the police are also like you are sex workers. When we arrest you, you abuse us. You throw very big words on us. So we get to a place where we get an understanding. Sit together and come to an agreement. And as an organization, we also go to clean police stations sometimes, just to volunteer cause we have international sex workers date seventeenth December. We just go and clean the police stations. and we eat together so that we try to find a way of working together. Yeah.


Nicole Tofan: Thank you.


Maya Daly: So I just have one final question before we end. What does sex work mean to you? And why did you decide to get into this work?


Mercy Mukoya: Well. Growing up, I was brought up by an aunt, my cousin. We stayed with my cousin, and she was a sex worker. so I she contracted HIV from sex work, and she could not share with anyone but from me. So that really interested me. To work with sex workers and to be an advocate for sex workers. I’ll say. have lived in the community of sex worker. And I’m really passionate about issues. That sex sex workers faces, and when I was started working after I completed my bachelor my, I mean my Dick associates. In nursing. I started working as a nurse in the clinic after volunteer. They worked as a nurse in the clinic, and the stories like I got to share personal life. If you interact at a personal level with sex workers, to me it feels like they are my sisters. They are my. Some of them are older to an age of my parents. And it like it was really exciting. And I was like, someone needs to speak to these. Yeah, we need to put an end to stigma. We need to speak to access of HIV prevention commodities. So drawing experiences from growing up with a cousin, Moses Xbox to working as a nurse to the sex workers and also being an advocate for the sex workers, really makes me, like, makes me feel motivated to continue pushing for a criminal decriminalization of sex work or advocating generally for agendas of sex workers. Yeah. Sex of his work. So to me, sex of his work. Yeah, like any other work.


Maya Daly: Thank you so much for sharing that with us. Just before we end. Is there anything else that you want to add or think we should know about you that we didn’t get to talk about from moving forward.


Mercy Mukoya: I would say, I’m also passionate. One of the key things. Also, I’m passionate about working with the young 6 workers. As I’ve told you, 70% of the population cohort is young sex workers between 15 to 29 and I’m passionate about working with young sex workers. And I feel that we are currently doing. Also, we will. We just need research on some of the challenges that have been facing and mental health has come out as one of the biggest, especially depression. And also drug use is one of the things that young sex workers have been facing. And we’re hoping that. And then the problem is, you can’t tell any in Kenya. Age of consent to access health services is 18 years and above. But I’ve had cases. We have a sex worker that is even 12. Yeah. And she can’t access medical services because she needs the consent of a parent. And the parent is not there. So those are some of the challenges. Yeah, that we do face.


deLancey Fitzpatrick: We just wanted to say, Thank you so much for giving us this interview and answering all those questions. It was really interesting to hear about your job, and it was really helpful talking to you. And it sounds really wonderful what you’re doing.


Mercy Mukoya: Thank you so much if you have any questions. Feel free to email to text me, I’ll be really, really happy to help out to answer any questions that you have.


Palmer Okai: Thank you. So thank you so much. We’ll also be like once our like once our work. As the group is finished. For, like our project, we’ll be reaching back out and like sharing our work with you.


Mercy Mukoya: Okay, I really hope I answered all of your questions. But let me know, in case you need more information, I’d be happy to. And also, I can share the organization website if you would like. Just yeah, link to the website and put it in the chat.

Palmer Okai: That would be wonderful. Thank you.


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Sex/Work by Ariella Rotramel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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