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Monday, November 17, 2014
BY Gatonye GathuraUpdated Monday, November 17th 2014 at 22:26 GMT +3
There is a new push to have the buying of sex criminalised. As part of a campaign that gained momentum at the 2014 Aids Conference in Australia in July that saw the signing of the Melbourne Declaration, about 400 groups, some from Kenya, are looking for innovative ways to make prostitution safe in the fight against HIV and violence against women.
In August, Health Cabinet Secretary James Macharia launched the HIV Prevention Road Map, which among other things, is considering cash handouts for girls and young women to keep them away from risky sexual behaviour.
The map also says in coming years, the ministry will vigorously advocate for legal protection of sex workers and provide them with safe places, together with their clients, where they won't be harassed by police.
Likewise, HIV activists in Kenya, with support from United Nations agencies and Global Fund, have been advocating for the legalisation of prostitution and a stop to the harassment of women who sell sex.
In 2012, the Kenya National Human Rights Commission called for the legalisation of prostitution, claiming the current law was discriminatory against sex workers.
But this path may soon be abandoned for a radical approach that says men who buy sex should be jailed.
The approach adopted in Sweden and now being exported to other countries is reported to have reduced the number of prostitutes dramatically in Stockholm and other cities in that State in the last five years.
"In the capital city, Stockholm, the number of women in street prostitution has reduced by two-thirds, and the number of clients by 80 per cent," said Marie De Santis, director of US-based Women's Justice Centre, which fights violence against women.
Ms Santis said by criminalising the buying of sex in Scotland, the renowned Swedish brothels and massage parlours that were common in the last three decades, when prostitution in Sweden was legal, were gone for the most part.
In 1999, Sweden passed a law that made it a crime to�buy sex and another one that made it legal to sell sex. Explaining the law, Santis said prostitution in Sweden is now regarded as an aspect of male violence against women and children.