On 30th September, 2014 the sex workers called for a stakeholders meeting with their lawyer to address the challenges they face. Among the invited were;
• Club bouncers
• Health care providers,
• Sex workers
• Security guards
• Boda boda operators
• Bar managers
• Police officers
The meeting was to address some of the violations of sex workers rights that had been reported to the office which included, harassment by the bouncers from the club, rape cases by boda bodas, sex workers being sent away from bars with claims they do not want parking ladies, stigma from the community and especially the health care providers and finally police arrests and seeking for bribes.
Experience sharing from specific sex workers drove the message home which in turn touched the hearts of the invited guests who promised to provide support and be nice to sex workers. The touching story was of a particular bar which is a hot spot and he had banned sex workers from waiting for clients there, he agreed to support sex workers and lifted the ban. He even requested we help him locate one sex worker who had stolen from a client at the same bar of which we agreed to do so as long as we get the details of the girl.
Finally the meeting came to an end with a positive impact where every gate keeper promised to give support, the boda boda chairman gave out his contacts plus the ones for the security personnel to be called anytime a sex worker is in danger, the health care provider also gave his contact and agreed to treat the sex workers anytime they are at the health facility, the receptionists also agreed not to be selling the free condoms at the dispensers to the sex workers and finally the sex workers promised to be disciplined and stop stealing from clients!
In September, peer educators from Survivors Busia conducted two trainings, targeting Female Sex Workers (FSWs) and Men who have Sex with Men (MSMs) for Splash inside out and Sister to sister projects.
The Splash inside out was for the both FSWs and MSMs Peer educators while the Sister to Sister was for the FSWs only. The trainings were each for three days and the aim was to refresh the peer educator’s memory and enable them disseminate quality information to the peers.
The sister to sister project is a new intervention that seeks to address the needs of sex workers through one on one basis within duration of 45 minutes. The intervention has all the steps required which involves risk assessment, health education, condom negotiation skills, condom demonstration and finally referral for bio-medical services.
The highlight of the training was about the reporting tools which have been a problem to some of the peer educators and needed time to be taken through to make reporting easy and also be able to collect quality data. Another highlight is that the training pave way for replacement of some peer educators who had changed town. New peer educators were trained to fill the gaps. The six days were full of group work discussions, presentation and active participation by all members.
At the end of the training the members left while happy and were given reporting tools and transport as motivation and headed straight to the hot spot for the moonlight HTC outreach to mobilize their peers and clients for the service.
For the past one year, the Survivors Busia team has been engaging in training on how to use technology to help the members engage more with the community and law enforcement.
The community organization, mainly composed of sex workers has made been engaging police officers, clients and sex workers in Busia on ways to safeguard their rights and fostering deeper understanding of some of the problems.
Busia is a border town between Kenya and Uganda and the truck drivers form majority of the clientele. Given the international and cross border challenges, Survivors has been looking for new ways to raise awareness on some of the challenges and prejudices facing sex workers.
With the improved connectivity, sex workers are finding clients of Facebook, social media, or sex work websites, which has made reporting more complicated, in cases of abuse or violence.
The development of online forums has led to challenges similar to “offline” problems and this has provided another forum for Survivors to engage with more people.
Understanding digital and social media opportunities and challenges has become a priority for Survivors Busia members, which led to the training.
After lessons on email, opening social media accounts and updating them, developing and uploading content, the team is now ready to start uploading its content on the website.
The training is usually conducted in groups owing to the team spirit at Survivors Busia; we like to uplift each other 🙂 There has also been shortage of computers and as the organisation grows, we hope to advance technologically.