Prostitution: The Sad Kenyan Story
with changing lifesytles so has the trade become sophiticated
As I walk along Nairobi streets on my way to take a bus home, sometimes I wonder how these beautiful girls can ever fall out of this trap that entangles them so tightly. Sometimes I wonder if their customers really care about what these girls have to face and go through everyday-the shame, the hopelessness, the stress and the heavy load of life’s share of problems. Sometimes I wonder what role I can play to rescue them out of their miserable situations but always remember I being a man, am venerable- subject to the temptation of lust that will quickly overwhelm me and lead me to take advantage of them in exchange of modest sum money for that all enjoyable experience. I hear that some are university students trying to raise their fees. I also hear that a majority of them are from very poor backgrounds, part of the huge number of migrants who go into towns in search of jobs. Whatever the girls’ backgrounds, they, together, stand in line, in wait of that prospective customer that includes the rich and the famous.
Prostitution is as old as man. In Kenya, it plays an integral part in the cycle of poverty. Very few girls are able to break out of it yet some others use it as a tool to greater prosperity. The normal traditional life pattern of a prostitute is that they are born into a family which in most cases is poor. They grow up watching their parents get into any form of business in order to sustain her siblings and soon learn from them that at times the ends justify the means. Sadly, due to the lack of a proper parental guidance and an abundant idle time out of the unavailability of meaningful social activities, they get into sexual relationships as part of the self discovery process and to kill ‘boredom’ only to find themselves with child. Their parents very annoyed and stunned that their children did not learn from their own mistakes, chase away the girl from the family stating that they already have enough problems of their own including their large family size and do not need any additions only reductions. The lonely girl, normally in their teens, with a child is then forced to live on her own and look for a means of survival.
Being a school drop out and under age, prostitution becomes the easiest and most enjoyable way to earn an income for the young girl and to feed her little baby especially having learnt from her parents that at times the ends justifies the means. She discovers that she now has the freedom to continue herself discovery process without the watchful eye of her parents. In fact, this now becomes a very potent tool for rebellion against her parents but that slowly turns into expression of rebellion against society - a society that now frowns upon her new found status and imprisons her to a life of shame. After some time the initial enjoyment and pleasure derived from the sexual act slowly turns to a mandatory survival routine exercise clouded with guilt and shame that now overwhelm the girl. She constantly wishes that she could stop selling her body to men who don’t care or value her most important asset- her body that she loves to adorn with jewelry and ointments and her precious womanhood. Years later, she resigns into a life of hopelessness and totally feels valueless. Her only hope lies in her child, in whom she hopes will break out of the circle of a miserable and at times poor life, chose to go to school and become a respectable and successful member of society. Unfortunately the child knowing no other better life and example to follow, finds herself leading the same life as her mother continuing the cycle to the next and next generation.
Today there is a new breed of prostitutes. Those who engage in the practice not out of necessity but in the hope of a better life. This group has heard stories of their close friends who let down their deeply held Christian values and stumbled on success itself- a man who provided for them and treated them like the queen they always loved to be. This type is quite sophisticated and chic. They are not the type that will stand in line or in the cold taking every ‘bus’ that comes their way. No! This type is very choosy and patiently waits for their desired target mainly comprising of rich men and tourists especially Italian and German. They are also not after an instant monetary gain, shopping will do and a few gifts here and there. They pose like lonely ladies that are looking for a lifelong partner. In fact, they are so hard to identify since some of them even have day time jobs and are well educated. They include university students in seeking to raise pocket money, young unemployed girls seeking a job and employed girls seeking an extra income, a higher paying job or a life of financial bliss. They will never admit that they are prostitutes though in some circles they are identified as professional prostitutes firstly because they are professionals in terms of job status and secondly they do their act in a professional way. I don’t know if they are the product of the African woman and her modern dilemma (See article by similar title) but if the definition of a prostitute is one who gives their body to another sexually for a monetary gain then they fit the bill. They normally love to go to bars and similar classy joints unaccompanied by men. Some love to travel to the coastal area of Kenya mainly visiting areas like Mombasa, Diani and Malindi in such of that tourist who will build them a big home. The promise of a better life is their main motivator. They later become successful in their hunt and get the status that they desire in society earning huge salaries or living a lavish life. I actually know of one who dislodged the first wife of a wealthy man and at the age of 23 she had her own apartment and drove a land rover house. I hear another got her license to transact her business through a ‘strategic’ encounter with a powerful and rich man. I guess this are just rumors since they say they ‘truly’ love their man.
I wonder if in this case it would be more acceptable for me to refer to them as concubines for fear of social retribution against me for this article or more appropriately for me to seek to understand way prostitution in whatever form takes place and thus try justify the existence of the practice and therefore try find a solution to the problem. What ever the case the stories are sad from a religious point of view and seriously need to be addressed maybe by engaging the church, the moral custodians in society or advocating for new social norms that will still uphold the moral fabric of society.
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