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Vetting, recruitment and harassment: Confessions of a club waitress

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 File photo [Standard]

Clubs are some of the lucrative places where young girls get jobs, whether part-time or permanent.

And just like it is the case with young deejays and Karaoke hosts, clubs provide a perfect source of finances as a side hustle for the mature campus urban girls.

They are places where one can make quick gains especially if they are training for hospitality jobs. It is also a good service place for young girls who like to party and meet new people. It is said that in Nairobi, where a vibrant nightlife thrives, most club hostesses are now college and university students.

When Ivy* came across an advert that a club was recruiting hostesses and waitresses, she knew landing any of the two would give her a financial lifeline. As a third-year university student in Nairobi, like most of her friends, she would spend her free time over the weekend making something to pay for her bills in these pressing economic times. Besides, a waitress job is something she had successfully attempted before.

She attended the interview as directed and here, she met hundreds of other girls who were also interested, mostly university students. And after five long hours of waiting in the que, when her turn came, she was ushered into the interview room where two men were waiting to take her through the process.

"They asked me many questions, some rather personal and humiliating like wanting to know if I had a boyfriend and if we practice protected sex. I had to answer back and keep my cool as I desperately needed the job. However, the final ritual was a no for me. They asked to remove my clothes so as to see my body size as that was a requirement but I refused to bow to that I ended up storming out of the room and never looked back again," says Ivy*.

Even with all the hustle of having to leave their families to work for long night hours, club waitresses go through a lot of challenges, from managers demanding sexual favours to clients mishandling them while they are still on their services at the work place.

"Most patrons who visit club don't discover that you have your own social life away from your club job. You could be married or seriously dating yet these men are lusting on you, assuming you will return their sex advances," says Sarah, a waitress who works at a Kitengela club.

"From businessmen to politicians, these men keep on throwing money to you as a bait and waitresses who are morally weak end up falling for them. This is a very common thing. It is also rampant as waitresses see it as a way of making extra income to top up the poor pay they earn," she adds.

According to her, some managers end up punishing waitresses who refuse to tore the line when they place their illicit demands. One can be assigned a double shift - that meaning that she ends up with no break in an entire week - or even discontinue your contract claiming that customers are not happy with your services.

"Mostly, it is the old drunk men who hit on you, not young guys who actually show up with their girlfriends. This can be so distasteful and really annoying. I mean, you are like their child. At 22, how do those old men expect me to feel their vibe even if they were genuine," she remarks.

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