Research on Male Sex Workers in Africa

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1 Dec

“My work as a male sex worker activist focuses on Africa mostly because in Africa, sex work is mostly associated with female sex work and most male sex workers are largely ignored; the voice of the male sex worker rights movement is not heard as prominently as it should; the same can be said of transgender sex workers”, said John Mathenge Mukaburu, who is the coordinator of the Kenyan Sex Workers Alliance.

In December 2010 a research workshop was conducted in Johannesburg (South Africa), 15 male sex workers (MSW) from five countries in Southern and Eastern Africa; Kenya, Namibia, South Africa, Uganda and Zimbabwe. The workshop was facilitated by Gordon Isaacs, Eric Harper (of the Sex Worker Education and Advocacy Taskforce) and Paul Boyce (a UNDP consultant). Mathenge was one of the participants.

The aim of the research project was to explore the social contexts, vulnerabilities and sexual risks of MSWs in Africa. The research report, “An Exploratory Study of the Social Contexts, Practices and Risks of Men Who Sell Sex in Southern and Eastern Africa,” found that the knowledge of the subjective experience of selling sex is vital to effective HIV prevention efforts in the contexts studied.

The report also found that many men get into sex work after being rejected by their families because of their sexuality or because they are unable to find other forms of employment. While the profession is fraught with risks, many MSWs interviewed also spoke to the positive impacts their work has had for them including an increased sense of independence from the money they earn, boosted self-esteem, ability to set their own working hours, developed social networks and the possibility to understand their own sexuality.

Additional/related resources:

Male sex worker shares his story of working as a male prostitute in Cape Town
Uploaded on 12 May 2014
By News24