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Nyeri prostitutes: Older, more aggressive women taking our jobs

By Lydiah Nyawira | August 20th 2021

Nyeri sex workers are a bitter lot. The girls claim that since last year, older women have been joining their lucrative trade, slowly driving them out. One of the girls, Purity, claimed that the older women have been forced to become prostitutes due to desperation and lack of income.

She claims most of them were rendered jobless after Covid-19 struck and opted to try their luck in the age-old business.

“It is not fair. These women are inexperienced and very aggressive. They mock us, insult us. Most of them are above 40 years old. They are desperate since they don’t have jobs,” she said, adding that some of them left their husbands after they lost their jobs.

She said that in the past, she would witness at least five new faces at her spot, but nowadays, more than ten women and girls will flock there. 

“When couples separate, the women have no choice because their men who were their sole breadwinners no longer provide. The easiest thing to do is turn to prostitution,” she said.
Purity revealed that some of them live a double life.

“Some of them are staunch Christians. They will attend church service on Sunday and later in the evening come to the streets. It is laughable. Why would someone lead a double life? They decide to decide if they belong to God or to the streets,” she told The Nairobian.

With Covid restrictions, the girls said that they have been forced to change tack. Clients now call and book them on specific dates  while regular ones get home visits.

“What happens is you chat on social media and make an appointment and agree on a fee and time. Further, due to Covid, lodgings and bars are expensive, so we have decided to go online,” said, Mumbi, who has been in the business for years.

Working from home

However, she warns that home visits are risky since sometimes the clients will demand you get into a taxi and refuse to reveal the destination. 

“Home visits come with a lot of danger. You will travel to an unknown location and due to curfew hours, you have to spend the night with the client. Before Covid 19, we use to charge per hour but now we have to charge overnight and hope that come morning, the client will pay up and not become violent,” she said.

 In May, prostitutes from Nyeri and Mweiga towns protested after one of their colleagues, Naomi Wangechi was murdered and her body discovered in a thicket in Pembe Tatu estate.
 She operated in the uptown Kanisa Street where dozens of night sex workers target clients travelling on the main Nyeri-Nyahururu highway.

Despite giving a detailed description of the vehicle that picked up their colleague, no arrests have been made.
“All we want is justice for our colleague since we don’t know who could be the next,” the women said.
The women want the security agencies to assure them of their security since this was the third case in three years.

“In 2018, our colleague was picked outside Spinners Club near Nairobi bus termini. She was raped and her body dumped in a tea bush in Mathari. In 2019, another of our colleagues took her client to her Ngangarithi rental home where he killed her by breaking her spinal cord,” a commercial sexual worker added.
After the heinous murder of Wangechi, the girls have relied heavily on word of mouth to keep safe and avoid clients who are problematic or appear dangerous.

“We often warn each other when we come across a client who is problematic or appears dangerous,”Njambi said.
The girls complained with Covid the number of clients has drastically reduced, forcing them to reduce their charges. 
A gender-based violence officer at Hope World Wide Africa, Margaret Wa Mukuria, said they have registered about 600 workers in Nyeri town.
“We are approaching government to see how they can be protected. We aim to minimise death incidents. We register them and give them free medical and counselling services,” she said.

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