JUST AGE 20

Desperate sex worker hangs herself in Kitale slum

Was she abused by clients, behind in her rent, sick of her sordid business?

In Summary

• Twenty-year-old sex worker hangs herself in her slum house in Kitale. Her last client is not known. 

• She was behind in her rent and a friend said sex workers are often abused.

A 20-year-old  sex worker in Kitale town has hanged herself in her rental house in Tuwani slums.

The motive has not been established, but she was behind in her rent. Another sex worker said violent men prey on them. Police are investigating.

The body of Leah Chebet was found on Wedneday evening after her house had been closed for most of the day.

She had rope bruises on her neck suggesting she struggled while hanging herself. Maybe she changed her mind when it was too late. Could someone have killed her?

Bondeni sublocation assistant chief Werunga Otunga David  told the Star the body was discovered by her landlady and neighbours who broke down the door.

“She had some rope burns around her  neck which we suspect was due to the struggle when hanging herself.The motive behind her decision to take away her own life has not been established," Werunga said. He is acting chief in Tuwani location.

The administrator said the deceased had rental arrears that could have pushed her into depression.

Law enforcement officers led by OCS Matisi police station took the body to the Kitale county mortuary for a postmortem.

“Our initial investigations indicated the deceased had some rent challenges and had promised the landlady that she would pay her arrears by Wednesday.

"What transpired is a matter under investigation. Her relatives were asked to report  to the Matisi police station'', said Werunga.

According to police, 'it is challenging' to know who Chebet was with on Tuesday  night, given that the door was closed until her body was found hanging from a rafter.

Trans Nzoia West deputy police commander Peter Lobolia said investigations are underway.

Residents from Liavo in Kwanza subcounty told the Star too much alcohol and an appetite for money has pushed young girls into commercial sex work. They said hey were in danger from some violent clients.

DM, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, is a 35-year-old former sex worker who knew Chebet. She said she had quit the  business due to harassment from men who prey on sex workers in Kitale.

“I quit this dirty trade  in which I sold myself for as little as Sh200 to survive the economic hardship from Covid-19.

"My request to the county government, to leaders, well-wishers and parents is to ensue young girls get maximum support so they don't resort to prostitution to eke out a living," DM said.

Nominated MCA Ann Ciiku  urged parents to keep a close watch on what their young daughters are doing for a living.

“I'm pleading with the parents to keenly look after their children, treat them with utmost care and love. Some of these girls are trading their bodies for survival because of the hard economic ties we are facing as a country.

In the recent past, sex workers in Kitale town and environs have been killed in brutal and unclear circumstances by clients.

Killings have occurred in Laini Moja and other truck stops such as   Mutondo, Kipsongok, Mitume, Tuwani  and Matisi.

(Edited by V. Graham)