Rachel Atieno, a 32-year-old woman. She is a mother of 5 children. She lives in Abimbo village on the Kenyan shore of Lake Victoria. She became a widow 10 years ago. She was in trouble, thinking about how she could manage her earning for her family. Finally, she was compelled to choose the path of ‘Jaboya’. And the profession made her a point of discussion and debate worldwide.
What is ‘Jaboya’?
Jaboya is a profession where women offer someone to have sex with her. And the man has to give good fish in return. It is quite a common practice in Abimbo village in western Kenya’s Siaya County and throughout sub-Saharan Africa. “This ‘Jaboya’ thing will always be there. In fact, it has increased due to the poverty in our area and those who do it do so because there is no other option,” said Atieno.
The poor women in this area are mainly dependent on selling fish. But their poverty does not let them buy fishes of their own. To manage their livelihood the women do sex with the fishermen to get fishes to sell the next day. Otherwise, they do not have any option left. “You might sell the fish you get today, but spend it on buying food and other basic things, so the next day you have to start afresh,” Atieno added.
This made Siaya County a place with the second-highest HIV prevalence in Kenya, with nearly a quarter of the population infected with the virus that causes AIDS.
However, Atieno in no more in the Jaboya profession. An NGO namely Challenge Africa has come forward to rescue the women like Atieno. They train the women, give loans to them. These women can get lots of a bigger amount if they pay off the previous one. “After these training, the selected women were each given the $50 loan to expand and strengthen their businesses like those we had selected were the ones that were already running businesses,” Edwin Ogillo, Challenge Africa’s country director said.
Thus the women are turned back to the mainstream. Thousand of women of Siaya County like Atieno get the courage to dream of, again.