Informal Settlements, COVID19 and Sex Workers in Kenya

The Centre for Work, Organisation and Society (CWOS) warmly invites you to join guest speaker Professor Teela Sanders and Rahma Hassan as they present research based on the challenges faced by female sex workers in Nairobi, Kenya.

  • Wed 21 Oct 20

    12:00 - 13:00

  • Online

    Via Zoom ID 915 5270 6404

  • Event speaker

    Professor Teela Sanders and Rahma Hassan

  • Event type

    Lectures, talks and seminars
    Centre for Work, Organisation and Society (CWOS) Research Seminar Series

  • Event organiser

    Essex Business School

  • Contact details

    Dr Sophie Hales

This seminar aims to highlight the challenges faced by female sex workers living and working in urban informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, during the COVID 19 outbreak.

Seminar abstract

This presentation highlights the challenges faced by female sex workers living and working in the urban informal settlements in Nairobi, Kenya, during the COVID 19 outbreak.

The data was collected through telephone interviews during the immediate crisis These interviews were used to document the experiences of urban poor sex workers and health care practitioners in the informal settlements.

This illustrated the acute problems they are facing including poor quality and precarious housing with the actuality of eviction and demolition.

It has also led to the adverse economic and social challenges linked to government measures to curb COVID 19 and sex workers exclusion from crisis financial measures, as well as change to the sex work environment, including heightened gender-based violence. 

So, this presentation will highlight the ramification of the COVID 19 crisis for the sex industry and predominantly women working within this informal, illegal labour market.


This seminar is free to attend with no need to book in advance. Please feel free to share with your friends, colleagues and classmates.

Speaker bio

Professor Teela Sanders

Professor Teela Sanders is a Professor of Criminology at the University of Leicester.

She is a leading international scholar in research on the intersections between gender, regulation, governance and crime, specifically in the sex industry.

Sanders has written 7 books, edited 8, and has over 50 peer-reviewed journal articles based on research projects funded from major research councils.

A recent Economic and Social Research Council study, Beyond the Gaze, on internet sex work has created some of the largest datasets in the world, and outcomes have involved practitioners good practice, safety resources for sex workers and police as well as practitioner training.

She has recently completed a Home Office project of corrosive substance crime and a sex work project in Nairobi.

Professor Sanders has received a Leverhulme Research Fellowship for 2019 - 2021. Her work has influenced government policy and policing guidance, and has been featured in major newspapers and media outlets.

Rahma Hassan

Rahma Hassan is a female social economic researcher from Kenya and a PhD fellow at the University of Nairobi and University of Copenhagen.

She has worked in social development research and specifically in advocating for women rights among marginalised communities in urban and rural populations.

From her early career Rahma has been working globally on research in health and governance, bringing in practical knowledge to reach target populations that would ordinarily be hard to reach.

She has recently engaged in research on sex workers in Kenya in collaboration with the University of Leicester and Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme. This includes her recently published study on sex workers in crisis at the time on COVID 19.

Her other work includes access to health, social norms and human rights in conjunction with other researchers from institutions such as;

  • London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine,
  • University of Leicester,
  • Raising Voices
  • Women Empowerment Link
  • International Rescue Committee
  • University of Washington

among others.

Rahma has lead field teams across Africa, successfully completing research projects. She also holds a Master of Arts and Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Nairobi.

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