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Kenya Sex Workers Alliance doesn’t endorse politicians – photo of ‘Ruto protest’ doctored

A photo posted on Facebook on 28 September 2020 shows a crowd of protesting women carrying a banner with the words “Kenya Sex Workers Alliance”.

Test below that reads, in a mix of Kiswahili and English: “Asante Ruto for supporting our hustle. Wewe tutakupea free!” This translates as: “Thank you Ruto for supporting our enterprise. You’ll get it for free!”  

William Ruto is Kenya’s deputy president, and has declared his interest in running for president in the 2022 elections. He has branded himself a hustler” who supports the youth, women and the vulnerable in job creation, and declared that “every hustle matters”.

Data from CrowdTangle, Facebook’s public insights tool, shows the post has been shared dozens of times, attracting thousands of reactions. Most of the shares claim that the sex workers were endorsing Ruto’s 2022 bid.

But what’s the truth here? We checked.

‘Save us from our saviours’

A reverse image search reveals that the photo is at least eight years old and has been photoshopped.

It was posted online as early as 16 September 2012. In the original version, the banner reads: “Stop killing sexworkers they are human. Save us from our saviours. Only rights can stop the wrongs.”

A Kenya News Alert article in which the photo appears, dated 16 September 2012, reports that “sex workers in Thika held a peaceful demonstration protesting against the killing of one of their own Peninah Nyambura and called on the Government to decriminalize prostitution”.

And the Kenya Sex Workers Alliance has recently taken to social media to explain that the photo has been doctored.

On 28 September 2020 the organisation posted the original photo and the photoshopped version – stamped “FAKE” – on Facebook and Twitter, along with a press statement.

“KESWA wishes to clarify that the pics are fake and did not originate from us or any of our member organisations,” it said. “The photos were from previous marches and demos to call to attention the plight and killings of sex workers in various parts of the country.”

It also said it did not engage nor endorse any political party, candidate or person. – Dancan Bwire


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