Women fishmongers accuse male fishermen of sexual harassment in Kilifi

A Fish monger weighs her fish at Old Ferry in Kilifi. PHOTO: DAVID NGUMBAO.

Kilifi,KENYA:Women fishmongers in Kilifi’s Old ferry fishing port are crying foul over male fishermen demanding for sexual favours before agreeing to sell fish to them

They frustrated women who spoke to Baraka FM say the behavior is rife during the rainy season when fish are scarce and that has prompted some women to leave fish mongering to stay at homes as house wives.

Mariam Kitsao, one the fishmongers told Baraka Fm on Tuesday that the behavior has left many of them vulnerable to infection from sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV/AIDS.

“Sex for fish has seen most women being infected with HIV/AIDs and others have opted to drop the business and look for alternative ways of earning a living,” Mariam said.

“They have no modern equipment to fish in the deep sea to get enough fish for every one of us so for the few fish available they normally discriminate those who are not willing to offer sexual favours in exchange for fish,” she added.

She said the coming of foreign fishermen from Zanzibar and Pemba islands relieves them from the stress they get from their own fishermen saying that local fishermen were opposed to the entry of foreign fishermen over fears that their behavior could come to light.

Ms. Kitsao said the vulnerable women are widows and single mothers who mainly depend on fish mongering to raise their families.

“Some women have been now been banned from buying fish there because they refused to be used sex tools by the fishermen,” she added.

Local fisherman have refuted the claims saying that the women who were making the accusations are those who had bad blood with local fishermen.

Jonathan Kaingu a local fishermen who spoke to Baraka FM further refuted the claims that they were opposed to foreign fishermen over fears of the sexual harassment allegations coming to light.

“The foreign fishermen are illegally in our waters and we do not need them because they use ring nets which are very dangerous for catching fingerlings,” Kaingu said.
This comes less than a week after 16 Tanzanian fishermen were arrested by Kenyan officials in Malindi.