Family Kinship Patterns and Female Sex Work in the Informal Urban Settlement of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya

E.N. PN. "Family Kinship Patterns and Female Sex Work in the Informal Urban Settlement of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya.". 2001.


Family Kinship Patterns and Female Sex Work in the Informal
Urban Settlement of Kibera, Nairobi, Kenya
Elizabeth N. Ngugi . Cecilia Benoit-
Helga HaJlgrimsdottir . Mikael Jansson- Eric A. Roth
Published online: 4 April 2012
;i,;~ Springer Science+ Business Media, LLC 2012
Abstract A basic ecological and epidemiological question
is why some women enter into commercial sex work while
other women in the same socio-economic environment never
do. To address this question respondent driven sampling
principles were adopted to recrui t and co llect data for 161
female sex workers and 159 same aged women who never
engaged in commercial sex in Kibera, a large informal
settlement in Nairobi, Kenya. Univariate analysis indicated
that basic kinship measures, including number of family
members seen during adolescence and at present, not having
a male guardian while growing up, and earlier times of
ending relationships with both male and female guardians
were associated with commercial sex work in Kibera.
Multivariate analysis via logistic regression modeling
showed that not having a male guardian during childhood,
low education attainment and a small number of family
members seen at adolescence were all significant predictors
of entering sex work. By far the most important predictor of
entering sex work was not having any male guardian, e.g.,
father, uncle, older brother, etc. during childhood, Results
are interpreted in light of the historic pattern of sub-Saharan
African child fostering and their relevance for young women
in Kibera today.
Keywords Urban ecology- Female sex work· HIV! AIDS·
Nairobi Kenya
E. N. Ngugi . C. Benoit· H. Hallgrimsdortir . M. Jansson'
E. A. Roth (12J)
University of Victoria.
Victoria. Be. Canada
Epidemiologists, medical personnel and public health officials
have long recognized the importance of female sex
workers (FSWs) in the sub-Saharan African AIDS pandemic
(D'Costaetal. 1985; Ngugi er rz/, 1988;Mosesetal.1991)
where they can serve as core groups, i.e., sub-populations
whose high rates of partner change sustain sexual infections
at epidemic levels. Today female commercial sex work
remains an important source of HIV infection within sub-
Saharan Africa's generalized AIDS epidemic because of
FSWs' high HIV prevalence rates (Steen and Dallabetta
2003; Cote et al. 2004; Gouws et al. 2006: Talbott 2007;
Morris et al. 2009). Yet, despite extensive epidemiological
research on the biological parameters of HIV transmis: ion
between African FSWs and their commercial clients, there
remain important knowledge gaps in the basic social epidemiology,
defined as the study of the distributions of health
outcomes and their social determinants of African commcrcial
sex work (Berkman and Kawachi 2000; Poundstone et
al. 2004). For example, while commercial sex work is a high
risk occupation both in terms of STIIHIV infection and
violence (Rekart 2005), few studies consider why or how
African women become FSWs, even though "effective prevention
programs cannot be established until there is a better
understanding of why women enter into commercial sex
exchanges" (Kalipeni et al. 2004:66).
At face value the question of why women enter sex work
appears overly simplistic, with economic need combined with
a lack of opportunities the apparently overwhelming answer.
However, in a study of rural Ugandan sex workers, Gyscls et
al. (2002) noted that not all disadvantaged women turn to sex
work, while an analysis of Thai child labor (Taylor 2005)
found that wealth and education were positively associated
with higb risk behavior, including commercial sex,
~ Springer

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