No Sex for Fish: Empowering Women to Stand Up to the Fishers Exploiting Them [UPDATED]

In Kenya, fishers are demanding sex in exchange for food—but a new initiative is working to empower women to be their own bosses.
Oct 29, 2014·
Samantha Cowan is an associate editor for culture.
UPDATED April 13, 2015
TakePart's No Sex for Fish documentary has been nominated for a Webby Award in the category of Online Film & Video/Documentary: Individual Episode.

Trading sex for fish has been a common problem in the Lake Victoria region of Kenya. Pollution and damage to the area's wetlands have created more competition for the fish the community relies on to survive. With men at the helm of the nearly all fishing boats, they often demand sex—in addition to money—from women who rely on fish to feed themselves and their children. This practice, known locally as jaboya, contributes to the spread of HIV.

Pleas from conservation groups to protect threatened ecosystem were falling on deaf ears as long as women were being exploited in this way, their children going hungry if they refused to participate. So VIRED International, a local nonprofit organization focused on environmental protection and human development, started the No Sex for Fish project by donating fishing boats to local women.

TakePart World producer Alex Stapleton spoke to a woman named Agnes, who has found success and respect through the program. Some local fishermen work for her now, and Agnes takes pride in her growing business. With immediate concerns of her health and safety taken care of, she is now able to focus on preserving Lake Victoria's wetlands—which will be key to the sustainability of fishing as a source of income and food.

Learn more about Vired International here.