Kenyan prostitutes embrace technology, reap big

Hundreds of Kenyan call girls have subscribed to various sex chat sites, which feature live webcam models streaming direct from their homes and studios to various parts of the world. PHOTO | FILE 

Modern technology has changed the face of Kenyan prostitution with the practice moving from poorly-lit back streets to some of the most exclusive estates in major cities.

In the coastal tourist haven of Mombasa, many twilight girls who used to linger around night clubs and guest houses are moving to secluded up market areas where they procure clients over the Internet.

Instead of physically booking rooms with their clients in lodges, the girls now use modern video transmission methods such as Skype to reach clients the world over, for a good fee.

The sophistication of prostitution became evident last week when police raided a five-bedroom luxury house in the posh Nyali area of Mombasa and recovered 15 laptops, all connected to wireless Internet (WiFi). The house also had high-speed broadband.

Local Criminal Investigations Department boss Shadrack Juma confirmed numerous computer devices and transmitters were confiscated from the house where 11 women and a Swiss national, Christopher Clement Weissenrieder, were arrested in a case involving bestiality with a dog. (READ: Police hunt key woman in Mombasa porn syndicate)

Mr Juma said the equipment was being used to transmit pornographic videos to a number of sharing websites, adding that they had been dispatched to CID headquarters in the capital Nairobi for further analysis.

Online shows

"We expect the experts in Nairobi will retrieve vital information, which will help us as evidence in our case since we have charged them with various offences relating to pornography contrary to the Sexual Offences Act," said Mr Juma.

Investigations by the Sunday Nation revealed that women engaging in this type of prostitution are paid according to the amount of money received from their pen pals from various European countries where most of their clients reside.

The main business revolves around taking nude photos and pornographic videos and sending them to consumers in those countries online. The paper also established that hundreds of Kenyan girls have subscribed to various sex chat sites, which feature live webcam models streaming direct from their homes and studios to various parts of the world.

The chats stream live sex shows online where whoever wishes to watch pays using various modes of money transfer.

One 25-year-old woman who lives in a luxury villa where the trade is carried out said the house that was raided was just one of dozens in Nyali estate, as well as a number of cottages in the popular areas of Mtwapa, Malindi and South Coast where the practice is common.

There is privacy

"I am shocked that people regard the Nyali case as unique. There are many private homes and cottages where such business is going on,” she said, adding that rent for such houses, some of which are leased by foreigners, ranges between Sh150,000 ($1,800) and Sh200,000 ($2,400) a month.

She added: "We feel this is a safe way of earning our living since most of our clients are abroad, and only view performances online. Unlike street prostitution where you might be identified by one of your family members or your friends, here you are secluded and there is privacy."

"Most of these homes are owned by foreigners and rich business people while some of the girls are drawn from colleges. The majority are from the streets where they had been practising prostitution,” the woman, who did not want to be identified saying it would compromise on her personal security, said.

The Sunday Nation also learnt that the trade is rife in other towns at the Coast including Kilifi and Malindi.

The government has said areas complicit in the trade would be shut down and operators prosecuted, including those who operate brothels in their residential homes.

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