University of Sussex
Lukera, MaryFrances Apiyo.pdf (2.3 MB)

Promoting sexual and reproductive health of sex workers in Kenya: a human rights approach

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posted on 2023-06-09, 18:34 authored by Mary Frances LukeraMary Frances Lukera
The right to the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health care, is a fundamental human right guaranteed in international human rights law. Enforcement of sexual and reproductive health rights engage the right to information, the right to life, the right to privacy, the right to health, the right to education and to non-discrimination. However, enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health rights remains weak in Africa and other parts of the world. Women in Africa particularly female sex workers face a myriad of challenges that have severe impact on their lives, even, where rights to sexual and reproductive health have been incorporated in their countries’ Constitutions. Currently, while research in Kenya has focused on sex workers, it has been limited to their criminalisation. This thesis contributes to the body of research on sexual and reproductive health rights in the African continent. The thesis focuses on the potential of rights-based laws and policies to advance sex workers’ health leading to their greater empowerment. The thesis examines whether the adoption of a human rights approach can guarantee sexual and reproductive health of sex workers specifically in Kenya. It employs a sociolegal and empirical research method to conduct focus group and individual interviews with sex workers and professionals working directly and indirectly with them, including the police and the Division of Reproductive Health in the Ministry of Health in Kenya The research uses transnational feminist legal theory to analyse the experiences of sex workers in the global south and to articulate the significance of international human rights law to this field of inquiry. The thesis identifies the legal and policy barriers that impede sex workers’ enjoyment of sexual and reproductive health rights. The feminist research method illuminates the voices of sex workers to show the difference between what is framed in international human rights instruments, national laws and policies, and the reality of practice in Kenya. To address this gap, the thesis suggests ways in which rights-based laws and policies can be meaningfully utilised to advance women’s sexual and reproductive health rights and to alleviate inequalities and discriminatory practices in the provision of dignified health care especially to the sex workers.


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  • eng


University of Sussex

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