Meru gubernatorial candidate Mithika Linturi has pledged to support commercial sex workers by providing an enabling environment for their trade.
Addressing about 200 sex workers at a Meru hotel on Wednesday evening, Mr Linturi, who was accompanied by his running mate Linda Kiome, said that commercial sex work is a key indicator of a thriving economy.
He said if elected, his administration would come up with legislation and policy measures to address the social and health challenges faced by the sex workers.
Mr Linturi pledged to ensure commercial sex workers access free drugs and condoms to protect themselves in their trade.
“We will have an adequate supply of drugs, condoms and vaccines in our hospitals. Never again will our hospitals run out of drugs and condoms. We will also ensure you access vaccines needed to protect yourselves against STIs and cervical cancer,” he said.
He lauded the commercial sex workers for being diligent in use of protection hence preventing spread of HIV/Aids.
“HIV/Aids is real and there is a need to protect yourselves. I have noted that the HIV prevalence in Meru is at 2.5 compared to the national prevalence of 4.9 per cent. This means our people are protecting themselves. You should not let off the guard. Let us work towards lowering the prevalence,” Mr Linturi urged.
According to the Meru County health department there are 31,601 people living with HIV in Meru County, with the majority being the youth.
The Meru gubernatorial candidate claimed that commercial sex workers in Meru have been badly hit in the last four years due to capital flight as well as Covid-19.
He said commercial sex work is a key indicator of a vibrant economy where people have money to spare to seek their services.
“I am well-travelled and know that the best way to know the economy is vibrant [is to look at] commercial sex work as a key indicator. If there is no money, no one will come to seek your services,” Mr Linturi said.
The Meru Senator said if elected, his administration will develop legislation to end harassment of commercial sex workers.
The Meru senator also called on the commercial sex workers to speak out against abuse by their clients.
“Do not shy away from speaking about what you do,” he said.