Fresh reports by Kenya Aids NGOs Consortium (KANCO) indicates that Kajiado North Constituency hosts about 8,000 commercial sex workers: 6,000 females and 2,000 males, even as multiple sources including workers in brothels, and sex workers themselves confide in Elveza Media reporters, that the oldest profession now charge up to Sh10,000 on a good night in Kiserian, Ngong, and Rongai towns, in an increasingly lucrative trade that greatly poses deadly risks of contracting Sexually Transmitted Infections (STIs), and physical assault, and their families
Even damning, are revelations of ‘sex tourism’, whereby potential clients seeking sexual satisfaction far from where they are known, drive from as far as Nairobi or even flown to Mombasa, by following information they obtain from exclusively created mobile application, for sexually starved or adventurers, to splash thousands of shillings for a night out of sexual fulfilment, an exposé that now split opinions between tolerating the booming business that supports thousands of families and glaring danger to both sex workers and their clients contracting STIs, physical assaults and dysfunctional families it could create or break.
Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) report indicates that Kajiado North Constituency had a population of 387,538 in 2013, of which 195,952 are male and 191,586 females – figures that have increased in 2019 – a sizeable market percentage of which the existing 8,000 sex workers prey on.
The Kajiado County Strategic Plan has outlined that the HIV prevalence stands at 4.4% with adult women and men at 6.3% and 3.8% respectively. A total of 23,056 people are living with HIV. At the time of going to press we were unable to independently obtain and verify Kajiado North HIV statistics.
Homosexuals, ‘Ben 10s’
However, multiple sources say that male sex workers who are ‘hot catch’ for older women and homosexuals, are paid the highest fees compared to their female counterparts, since they are a rare breed operating discreetly due to, among others, homophobic nature of their activities, with one session averaging between Sh5,000 and Sh10,000, compared to female sex workers paid between Sh100 and Sh200 per short session.
Male sex workers interviewed said that their clients are mostly wealthy men and women from all over the country who prefer male sex workers from other regions where they are not known, for privacy reasons.
In some cases, these wealthy individuals pretend to ‘employ’ them as personal aides during company or private trips but the hidden intention is to have sex with them.
A male sex worker who only identified himself as Tony, for fear of victimization, said that a client once paid for him a plane ticket to Mombasa for a weekend of sexual orgy. For ease of business, Tony said, there is a mobile application where male sex workers visiting Rongai, Kiserian and Ngong areas, can log in and send a notification to advertise their availability to potential clients interested in their services. But it’s not all bed of roses for female sex workers, who are paid nearly fifteen times less, are mostly picked up by random strangers, risking physical assault or not being paid at all, are usually forced to part ways with their little pay to hire a watchman or friends as security.
“A shot can last 20 minutes and if the client does not climax he will be expected to pay similar extra amounts. The watchman or the other women usually knock at the door to put pressure on the client and as notification, that time is up,” said Mary (not her real name). According to KANCO, the data which was collected late last year and is yet to be verified by National Aids and STI Control programme (NASCOP), show that majority of female sex workers within Kajiado North, are between the ages of 20 to 35, and their numbers are increasing.
Irene who has worked as a sex worker for 4 years now in Kiserian said “I have had clients who walk in the lodging with a packet of Unga which his wife was probably waiting to cook for dinner. After finishing our business the clients would take the unga and head home”.
Some women solicit for clients in the streets and move to nearby lodgings while others remain in lodgings throughout and wait for clients who frequent these facilities. Further, some women frequent bars and clubs where they meet their clients. Those who meet their clients in bars and clubs can either go to the client’s home or nearby lodgings. Some married women also discreetly work as sex workers. They welcome clients to their homes when their husbands are at work during the day, but they are not many, the report shows.
The majority of the female and male sex workers according to the NGO are nowadays found on online platforms such as Facebook, with specialized Instagram and Whatsapp groups. There are also female escorts who usually accompany wealthy and powerful men especially politicians to different functions discreetly, in sex tourism escapades. And though sex workers are usually at the receiving end, they are not the only victims. Some clients, refuse to use condoms, risking being infected with STIs.
Some sex workers usually trick their clients by wearing female condoms. Many male clients, according to the report have never seen a female condom or have no mechanisms of making sure they are properly inserted. Other sex workers engage in criminal activities by robbing their clients. “Sometimes if a sex worker suspects a client is carrying a lot of cash, she will accept to sleep with the client for as little as Sh50 but with the sole intention of robbing him,” she said.