Deputy Chief of Mission (DCM) to Kenya Isiah Parnell visited the shores of Lake Victoria on February 27, in Kenya to support the “No Sex for Fish” (NSFF) campaign promoted by Peace Corps Kenya. The event was aimed at drawing attention to the plight of women in the “sex for fish” industry and demonstrated sympathy and support for the cause of the NSFF project.
Fish caught in the lake is sold almost exclusively by women. Traditionally, women never go fishing- they rely on men to sell fish to them, so they can then take the fish to market to sell. Fishermen commonly sell fish only to women traders who agree to have sex with them. This “sex for fish” practice is prevalent all over the shores of Lake Victoria, and it fuels the spread of HIV around the lake. It is extremely difficult for a woman to make a living of trading fish without submitting to the “sex for fish” practice.
NSFF is the reaction by 19 women fish traders against this practice. Through NSFF, women have acquired fishing boats and fishing gear on credit from well-wishers and have hired men to fish using these boats. The women will repay loans from the proceeds of their business and use that money to purchase more boats and fishing gear for more women. Funding for the first 3 boats came from the United States President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR). Subsequent funding has been raised mostly from private American citizens. To date, the group has 10 boats serving 2 fish landing beaches. 3 boats were launched at the event, bringing the number of boats to 13, which will now serve 3 fish landing beaches.
Peace Corps Kenya has been providing business advice to the NSFF group of women since August 2013. The visit from DCM Parnell aims to drive more financial support towards expanding NSFF to more women further afield.