Africa Asia Middle East عربي Français Português Subscribe RSS IRIN Site Map
Global HIV/AIDS news and analysis
Advanced search
 Saturday 11 April 2009
Weekly reports 
In-Depth reports 
Country profiles 
Fact files 
Most read 
Print report
KENYA: Gold mining in the west loses its lustre

Photo: Kenneth Oduor/IRIN
Women and girls offer sex to the miners in exchange for money
MIGORI, 2 October 2008 (PlusNews) - The sleepy town of Nyatike, in western Kenya's Migori district, has relied on gold mining since foreign prospectors discovered the precious metal in the 1930s; men do most of the mining, while women and girls come to the mines to sell food.

“I come here to make tea or at times porridge, which I sell to the miners here ... my grandmother is too old and weak to do anything,” Mercy Awino*, 17, told IRIN/PlusNews.

Her parents died of HIV-related illnesses two years ago, when she was in grade eight. Now she goes to the mines every day to try and make money to look after her siblings, her one-year-old daughter and her aging grandmother.

”But the desperation to make more money can at times push some of us to do more than just sell food,” she said. All these women and girls you see here have sex with the miners to get money. We sleep with them and they give us money to take back home.” Her mother had also worked at the mines before her death.

“At times we just have sex right here at the mines. If you go inside the caves, they are very dark and nobody will know what is going on," Awino added. "Me and most of my friends, we just have sex with the men here."

According to the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics, Nyatike constituency is one of the poorest in the country. The women and girls sell sex for as little as US$1.

John Ouko, 40, a miner, told IRIN/PlusNews that the women often put pressure on the miners to have sex with them. “When these young girls and women approach you to have sex with them so that you can give them money to buy sugar, do you say no?" he said.

"They will think you are bad, and you do not want to help them if you do not sleep with them, so we do that and give them something to take back home. Most of these young girls have lost their parents; we used to work with some of their fathers here at the mines.”

Poverty still a major challenge

The Migori District HIV/AIDS officer, Tom Rakewa, said HIV/AIDS awareness messages did not seem to be getting through to the mining communities. Migori district is in NyanzaProvince, which has an HIV prevalence of 15.8 percent, the highest in Kenya.

Photo: Kenneth Oduor/IRIN
Mining communities are neglected by awareness campaigns
“Poverty is the biggest problem in this area, and women and children are affected most," he said. "Research shows that Nyatike division, in particular, has a very high number of women- and child-headed households. When you have such a vulnerable group suffering from both HIV and poverty, then you can imagine what the situation that puts them in."

Rakewa said on average, six out of every 10 women and girls who visited the Nyatike sub-district hospital during pregnancy tested positive for HIV.

Migori District's medical officer, Mwita Nyamohanga, said although there were many non-governmental organisations fighting HIV in the area, reckless sex continued. “You know we cannot stop what goes on there in the mines because the people will tell you they are trying to make a living."

Gold mining also poses serious health risks to the miners: the dusty conditions in which they work are conducive to the spread of chest infections such as tuberculosis, and when miners contract HIV their health deteriorates rapidly.

"HIV is a real problem here,” said Nyamohanga. “Walk into some of these homesteads and the number of graves and orphaned children will surprise you."


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
Print report
FREE Subscriptions
Your e-mail address:

Submit your request
 More on Kenya
KENYA: When words hurt - university students get lessons in sensitivity
KENYA: New centre brings HIV services to truckers
KENYA: From the classroom to the bedroom
GLOBAL: Prevention the best medicine for TB
KENYA: Corruption, erratic drug supply threatens TB treatment
 More on HIV/AIDS (PlusNews)
GLOBAL: IRIN/PlusNews Weekly Issue 432, 10 April 2009
GLOBAL: IRIN/PlusNews Weekly Issue 431, 3 April 2009
SWAZILAND: Poverty erodes treatment gains
LESOTHO: Cash for kids
KENYA: When words hurt - university students get lessons in sensitivity
Back | Home page

Services:  Africa | Asia | Middle East | Radio | Film & TV | Photo | Live news map | E-mail subscription
Feedback · E-mail Webmaster · IRIN Terms & Conditions · Really Simple Syndication News Feeds · About PlusNews · Jobs · Bookmark PlusNews · Donors

Copyright © IRIN 2009
This material comes to you via IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. The opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of the United Nations or its Member States. Republication is subject to terms and conditions as set out in the IRIN copyright page.