Posted June 3, 2021 9:19 am by

NAIROBI, Kenya Jun 3 – Caroline (not her real name) has been a sex worker in central Nairobi for 20 years.

At 36, Caroline says she has tried several menial and office jobs but nothing worked for her due to her poor educational background. “I have no academic papers that can get me a nice job. So this is what I do for a living and it is what feeds me and my three children,” she said in this interview this week.

Having dropped out of school at Form Two, Caroline says she was first hired as a housemaid when she came to Nairobi when she was just 16. “I just couldn’t handle it because I was too tiny and the work was too much, so I quit and landed a job as an office assistant at a small company in Industrial Area but that too did not last.”

As the world celebrates International Sex Workers’ Day, we reflect on the life of Caroline and how she got into this trade which she considers a profession.

Sex Workers’ Day is celebrated to honour sex work as well as acknowledge the struggles and challenges sex workers face in their daily work.

This day was first celebrated in 1976.

“I’d say I was introduced to this business by poverty and influence,” she says, “I had a friend who took me to a brothel but lied to me it was just a massage kind of business but when I got there and realised you can make Sh2,000 and sometimes even Sh5,000 a day from tips alone I never looked back. That was in 2001.”

Caroline admits this ‘job’ has a lot of risks “because I have lost so many friends. Some to HIV/Aids, and some to brutality or disappearance.”

“You just have to be careful, but for sure I can tell you it is not a good thing to do,” she said, “I wouldn’t advise any girl to do this for a living even though this is what has educated my first born son who is in High School. I also have two other children in primary school but please don’t ask me who their father is.”

The soft-spoken Caroline, who would easily pass as a High School student, says lately “business is bad.”

COVID-19 effects on Sex work

“We rely on sex work which ordinarily is done at night in most cases but with the curfew, things have changed,” she said.

With the closure Read More…