“I can’t really remember my first client. I remember going on a double date with my sister. It was very awkward to have someone I didn’t know putting their hands all over me. It’s like taking mud and putting it on a white shirt! Eventually, after having a couple of clients though, I got used to it. I learned that I had to play nice even when I was not in the mood. It wasn’t about sexual pleasure; it was about food and money at the end of the day.” Joyce* Source: African Sex Worker Alliance
“This is not a good life,” says Annie, “sometimes the men treat me badly. Sometimes they refuse to pay me and chase me away. Sometimes they do terrible things to me which I can’t even describe. The most horrible ones are the bouncers, who demand that I have sex with them before they allow me into the club where I could meet the tourists.” Source: UNICEF, Author, Pamella Sittoni.
“What is most frustrating about this job is that one cannot plan ahead. It is such a de-humanizing job, yet the money we make is not enough to take care of our needs, let alone have some left over to send home.” Fatma* Source: Daily Nation, “Poverty Leading to Prostitution”, 1999, Author, Njoki Karuoya.
Club Casablanca, Dorothie told me, was the place to be if I wanted to cop a feel for the action. And it’s non-stop action at Club Casablanca as the place is situated on Mnazi Road, off Moi Avenue. Even on Thursdays! It’s a 24-hour entertainment spot, much like Nairobi’s Modern Green. Dorothie was right. Casablanca is…
I haven’t even taken it all in when I see her. A girl from my own neighbourhood. She’s bleached her skin, has a crazy Mohawk hairstyle, is standing tall in gladiator heels, rocking denim hot pants and a halter that reveals a bellybutton ring, and she has on extra-large silver hoop earrings… but it’s definitely her. I remember her name. Our eyes meet. Twice. The second time we exchange a knowing look. Then she drags her companion – a lanky white guy in a T-shirt and cargo pants who’s clutching a Tusker like his liver depends on it – through a pyrotechnic display of strobe lights and smoke where grinding human bodies are grooving to the techno rhythms.
A Humphrey Bogart quote from the movie Casablanca, after which this club was named, echoes through my mind, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this girl that I’ve just spotted is thinking the exact same thing! “Of all the gin joints in all the towns in all the world, she walks into mine.” [END]
According to a UNICEF report (2006), indigenous Kenyans represent about 40% of the clients in sex tourism. The same report says that only 35% of girls use a condom – the client may pay them up to five times as much to have sex without one. Female sex workers, their clients and the sexual partners of clients made up 14% of new HIV infections in Kenya in the same year. (UNAIDS/WHO 2009)
A study of male sex workers in Mombasa, Kenya found that less than 50% of male sex workers surveyed consistently used condoms with their male clients. (Geibel, Scott/ Horizons/ Population Council 2008)
The mean age at the start of sex work is 21.8 years. (USAID/FHI 2002) The mean weekly income from sex work was 1472 Kenyan shillings. (USAID/FHI 2002)
41% of women indicated that they had turned down a client when he refused to use a condom. (USAID/FHI 2002)
# Another UNICEF (and Kenyan Government) report found that: A least 15,000 girls in four districts on the Kenyan coast – Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi and Kwale – were engaged in casual sex-for-cash.
# “These girls, aged 12 to 18 years, make up 30% of the total population of girls from these districts in this age range,” UNICEF said. “A further two to three thousand girls and boys are involved in full-time sex for cash. Some of them are paid to perform the most horrific and abnormal acts.”
# At least 45% of the girls in the survey began selling sex for cash, goods or favours at only 12 or 13 years of age. More than 10% of girls involved in prostitution began transactional sex when they were younger than 12.
# According to the report, while many children are driven into transactional sex because of poverty, the high level of acceptance of child sex work in a significant group linked with tourism and beach commerce makes it relatively easy for children to drift into casual sex in exchange for no more than extra pocket money.
Originally published by Destination Magazine by Josaya Wasonga