Mombasa, Kenya Sex Workers Protest Murder of Colleagues

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African Regional Correspondent

Sex workers in Kenya’s coastal town of Mombasa have urged the police to conduct a thorough investigation into the murder of one of their colleagues in a hotel last month. During a peaceful demonstration in protest to the growing number of killings of sex workers in the area, the sex workers urged the police to act swiftly.

They threatened to take unspecified action against the owner of the popular hotel in which the 23-year-old Martha Simiyu was found murdered in one of the hotel rooms.

“Casablanca is a popular hotel and it shocked us that we could not get answers from the management as to how our colleague died without their knowledge yet the hotel has surveillance systems,” said Esther Nelima, an officer from Coast Smart Women Against HIV/ AIDS and Violence.

She added that the management of the hotel was reluctant to share the CCTV footage to ascertain what happened to Ms. Simiyu.

Joined by other human rights activists, the peaceful demonstration took place along Moi Avenue to the county commissioner’s office where they petitioned the deputy county commissioner to act swiftly and resolve the worrying and mysterious killings of sex workers.

Three deaths of sex workers have been reported in both Mombasa and Mtwapa in less than three months.

In a petition to the county government, Coast Sex Workers Alliance COSWA said it was unbelievable that no arrests have been made in connection with the deaths of Simiyu and the two others.

COSWA director Benta Joseph demanded proper investigations saying they will take matters into their own hands should the authority fail to take action.

According to data from Haki Africa, a human rights organisation based in Mombasa, cases of human rights violations against sex workers are on the rise.

Francis Auma, an officer from the organisation, has urged the relevant authorities to be prompt with their investigations over these deaths and ensure safety of sex workers.

He added, “we will not be silenced, we will ensure that the culprits are brought to book. Post-mortem results reveal that Simiyu was brutally murdered.”

“We are shocked because we don’t know why the suspect has not been arrested up to date,” said Francis.