Not long ago at a dingy brothel behind a sports bar on River Road, you could hear a church choir two storeys above and the pastor preaching against adultery.
Today, that third-floor church is now a VIP brothel, an extension of the low-class house of pleasure that remains on the first floor.
Churchgoers complained, especially those with children who were exposed to skimpily clad women displaying their wares. The church moved. The s3x trade took over.
This is just one example of prostitution thriving today. And how do the Johns find the ladies? And vice versa.
As always, word of mouth. But increasingly, the world’s oldest profession is going digital. You can find a date through an app or a website. Or she can find you. Madams’ black blooks are now folders in their computers
Pity the old-fashioned sex workers, who don’t know how to make the best of their smartphone or God-given gifts. Or are too unimaginative to figure out how to pay a man to make a website for them.
Though sex work is illegal in Kenya, business has never been better, whether on the streets or through online connections to dingy brothels, high-class clubs or hotels.
‘Dating’ apps have made it easy for sex workers and customers to find each other. Many sex workers have accounts on different sites. Devolution has also been a boon to them.
Some women do it out of poverty, campus-age girls are lured by easy money, while jobless women and children are trafficked into it. Despite the challenges faced, many end up addicted to the flesh trade, as one former sex worker put it.
“Although I was rained on, cheated, arrested and beaten by fellow sex workers, one day I’ll go back. Prostitution is like witchcraft, you can’t stop it once it’s in your blood,” said, Monicah* (not her real name), 31.
INSIDE CITY BROTHELS
At 3pm on a Wednesday, I posed as a sex worker at several brothels, accompanied by a male friend. I had to pay the madams Sh50 and up, and buy them at least two drinks to allow me to operate.
I wore a maroon, high-neck blouse (men will reach inside a low-cut blouse), black jeans, rubber shoes, a blond wig and gold-coloured sling bag.
Visitors are greeted by dim, flickering lights, loud Ohangla music and posters of popular strippers and footballers.
At one River Road brothel, sex workers hang out and leer at potential clients.
“Hi. I like you, can I have a shot for Sh200?” Steve, a Kasarani landlord, asked me. I said Sh500. He said no way.
An officer at Lang’ata barracks said he fell head over heels in love with me, kissing and groping me.
“Can I marry you for a day? Save your contact as John on my phone so my wife won’t know I’m cheating,” he said.
“Meet me at the barracks on Saturday afternoon. I’ll pay for your taxi and buy you as much alcohol as you can take.”
I declined. In that one brothel, I got offers from 13 men before I left for the next house of ill-repute.
At a brothel in Nairobi’s Kilimani area, things were different. To enrol as an escort, there were tough conditions. (Of course, I changed my clothes.)
Read the rest of the story on The Star.