BHESP sex worker organisation formed in Kenya

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Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) is an organisation for and by all women working in bars and sex workers in Kenya. BHESP was founded in the year 1998 by a group of these vulnerable women as a ‘loose’ association to advocate for their rights and recognition.

Within a short period of six months, its impact was well received within Nairobi but new challenges emerging from HIV/AIDS were overwhelming. The organisation rapidly evolved from its humble beginning as a community based organisation to registration as a national non-governmental organisation in 2005.

According to current Executive Director of BHESP Penina Mwangi, “the mission of Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme is to influence policy and facilitate provision of quality health services, human rights awareness, legal services and economic empowerment for bar hostess and sex workers.”

This mission is attained through:

- promoting national and local/county level policy for the human rights of bar hostesses and sex workers to operate in an environment where their dignity is upheld,

- public sensitisation initiatives that seek to create human rights awareness of bar hostesses and sex workers and garner citizen support towards this cause,  

- mobilising donor support and resources that promote the health and well-being of bar hostesses and sex workers, while providing an education on their rights to empower them to make informed choices, and

- being inclusive, participatory, accountable, responsive and sensitive to the needs of bar hostesses and sex workers.

Bar Hostess Empowerment & Support Programme (BHESP): (website)

Penina Mwangi on New Law in Kenya:
12 February 2011
By Allan Olingo, Paulo Longo Research Initiative (PLRI) blog

Additional related resources:
Follow BHESP on Twitter: / @bhesp
Like the BHESP Facebook Page: