Press Release: Justice for Agnes Wanjiru – sex workers & allies protest outside the Ministry of Defence to end violence against sex workers
Today (December 17, 2021) sex workers and allies gathered outside the Ministry of Defence in London to protest the murder of Agnes Wanjiru, a Kenyan sex worker, who was killed by a British Army soldier in March 2012.
Today is International Day to End Violence Against Sex Workers (IDEVASW), a day in which we honour and mourn sex workers who have been murdered and abused.
This year, SWARM (Sex Workers Advocacy and Resistance Movement), ECP (English Collective of Prostitutes) and the AAWG (All African Women’s Group) held a demonstration outside the Ministry of Defence. We were there to protest the murder of Agnes Wanjiru, a Kenyan sex worker, who was killed by a British Army soldier in March 2012. The soldier has not been held to account despite his confession to a fellow member of his unit.
SWARM, ECP and AAWG were joined by Women Against Rape and Sisters Uncut.
Supporting today’s protest, the African Sex Workers Alliance and Laikipia Peer Educators (LAPEED) in Kenya said:
“As sex workers, we are human. We need our rights. No one should violate us because of our job description. We are mothers, we are sisters, we have brains, we have blood in our veins.
Most of the time we have to depend on ourselves. It’s up to us to make sure that we hustle and ensure that we have money for our children and for what we need.
People should not discriminate or harm us just because of who we are. We are tax payers also, so we should be given our dignity and our work should be respected like any other job because we believe that sex work is a job like any other job.
We support this event because most of the time when sex workers are murdered, no one comes out to speak about it and no one follows up on anything about their murder. We are proud that this killing has been taken up internationally, that everyone is concerned about what is going to happen. We have been fighting here for justice and are proud to be part of such an initiative. We are concerned about what will happen after this, what will happen after the British soldier is brought back to Kenya. We’ve seen a lot of murders, but justice does not happen.
Getting justice for one of our own will be a great milestone for the sex workers community.
We send our power and strength to you for your event. We wish that you please convey that sex workers here would like to be respected and that we have a life to live just like anyone else.”
The recent outpouring about violence against women has revealed the systemic sexism, racism and transphobia of institutions like the army and the police. Sex workers frequently bear the brunt of this. Agnes Wanjiru was a mother supporting a young child. Her heart-breaking death is a stark reminder that our lives do not matter to those in power. Justice for Wanjiru means ending the criminalisation that puts us more at risk, demanding resources so that we are not pushed into prostitution by poverty and holding institutions to account, so that they cannot act with impunity in their destruction of our lives and livelihoods.
IMAGES FOR EDITORIAL USE IN THIS DROPBOX FOLDER, Copyright Juno Mac / SWARM: