Sex workers shifting from the streets to the hood

In the heart of major towns across Kenya, a subtle yet significant transformation is underway within the sex industry, as sex workers gravitate towards affluent clients.

Once confined to the shadows of River Road’s dimly lit streets and Nairobi’s Koinange area, brothels and sex workers are now venturing into upscale neighbourhoods, tapping into a clientele with financial means, seeking fantasies, discreet experiences, and sophistication.

Speaking to the Nairobian, sex workers shared their motivation for targeting high-end markets to maximize profits.

“To enhance the allure of sexual encounters, these upscale erotic centres cater to a diverse clientele, including locals and foreigners of various races from around the world,” noted one sex worker.

“The wealthy clientele is willing to indulge in sexual fantasies, creating lucrative opportunities for us,” added another.

“It’s all about optimizing our earnings,” explained Abi, a Ugandan sex worker thriving in upscale markets. “We’re following the money trail.”

A recent investigation by The Nairobian revealed that areas like Kilimani, Lavington, Thindigua, Riverside, and Karen are witnessing an influx of the sex industry, with sex workers establishing erotic homes and providing discreet services.

Once regarded as sophisticated and tranquil, these neighbourhoods are now hubs of sex, drugs, and crime.

Formerly adorned with upscale residences and boutiques, these areas now feature advertisements for a range of services, from massages to intimate encounters, with erotic centres promising exotic experiences.

Jane elaborated that they are strategically approaching clients through online platforms, malls, supermarkets, and local eateries.

“We make ourselves accessible everywhere—be it online, while driving for ride-hailing services, or during evening strolls,” she mentioned.

A survey by The Nairobian revealed that these ladies, often numbering up to ten, rent houses to conduct their business.

Some operate under the guise of spas, while others offer short-stay accommodations with additional services like massages, escorts, and sexual favours.

“It’s about convenience and confidentiality,” remarked Ann, a sex worker operating in upscale neighbourhoods. “Our clients prioritize privacy and are willing to pay a premium for it. Unlike those in lower-end areas, these clients are generous and respectful.”

Josiah, an ICT expert, attributed the proliferation of brothels in prime locations to the evolving urban lifestyle.

“People are leading busier lives and seek indulgence without navigating traditional red-light districts,” he observed.

Stanley Ngara, dubbed the “King of Condoms,” emphasized the changing economic landscape and the gig economy’s influence on alternative income sources.

“For many, the allure of higher earnings in upscale markets drives this transition,” Ngara stated.

He highlighted societal shifts and evolving attitudes towards sex work, noting a growing acceptance and demand for discreet, high-end services.

“The stigma is diminishing, and individuals now explore their desires in a judgment-free environment,” Ngara remarked.

Clients like Martin praised the convenience and secrecy of upscale services, citing the ability to enjoy these services discreetly.

However, he acknowledged challenges arising from the proximity of brothels to residential areas, leading to concerns about privacy and safety.

Ngara emphasized the need to respect sex workers’ rights and dignity, advocating for education, policy reforms, and community support.

He stressed the importance of collaborative efforts to address industry complexities while promoting a rights-based approach that respects individuals’ autonomy.

Ngara also noted evolving consumer preferences, including a growing curiosity for diverse sexual experiences and the popularity of group encounters.

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