Fish Shortage in Kenya Leads to Increase in Sexually Transmitted Diseases

Africa is one of the countries where high rates of sexually transmitted diseases have been registered. Although the lack of knowledge, the feelings of shame, and considering sexual health as a taboo topic has its influence over these high rates, it is a troubling system that may contribute the most. Today we will discuss the system of trading sex-for-fish.  

The sex-for-fish trade in Kenya

If you take a walk on the shores of Lake Victoria in Kenya, you will notice women giving empty bags to the fishermen, before they take off and go fishing either at night or very early in the morning. Then, when the fishermen come back, you will see their bags of fresh fish lying next to them in their boats.

The women, however, cannot get their hands on that fresh fish for a low price. The price of that fresh fish is actually not measured in money, but rather in sexual favors. The fishermen in Kenya are famous for taking advantage of these poor women, trading sexual favors for fish. 

Lately, more gay men are seen doing the same thing – trading sex for fish in order to survive. The fish that they later receive in return serve as either food for their families or stock to be sold in order to make for a living. It is an awful system that hundreds of men and women take part in, selling their bodies in order to survive.

How the fish shortage in Kenya leads to a noticeable increase in sexually transmitted diseases

Throughout the last couple of years, there has been a fish shortage around Lake Victoria in Kenya. That is why the fishermen go on fishing around Tanzania and Uganda as well. But that is surprisingly not the only thing that they are doing there. 

There, these fishermen are also engaging in the fish-for-sex system, getting involved in sexual encounters with different women and gay men for that matter. This process not only degrades women, but it also exposes them to the high risk of sexually transmitted diseases, including the much-dangerous HIV/AIDS. 

There has been a noticeable increase in sexually transmitted diseases in Kenya. In fact, Kenya is considered to be one of the six HIV “high burden” countries in Africa. It is all about how easily HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases, for that matter, are spread, affecting more people in different parts of Africa. 

Luckily, there have been more and more empowered women who have boat ownership and are skillful fishmongers with business skills. They usually have a higher income, so they no longer have to trade sex for fish, thus working against the spreading of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases. However, their number is still significantly smaller compared to the number of women who are still part of the sex-for-fish system.


Trading sexual favors for fish is a part of the everyday lives of many women who have been living in Kenya. HIV/AIDS has also become a part of the lives of more women who have been living in this part of the world as well. Because of that, an increase in sexually transmitted diseases has been registered throughout the years.


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