At the age of 64, Rosemary Johns is said to be one of the oldest prostitutes in Nairobi. Born and partly raised in Tanzania, Rosemary came to Nairobi in 1984 when a friend told her how well-paying flesh peddling was.
“I got married at 16, but after some time in marriage, my husband started neglecting us after I gave birth to five children,” recalls the now mother of eight (two have since died and the rest are adults in Tanzania).
“I could have had 10 children were it not for two miscarriages,” reveals Rosemary who parted ways with her husband and became a barmaid in Musoma, Tanzania, before relocating to Nairobi where “I joined some women along Digo Road where we would wait for clients day and night and charged KSh5 for our services.”
The price remained the same for more than five years “until it rose to KSh50 and finally over Sh100 in early 2000s, depending on the location,” explains Rosemary who estimates that she could handle up to 40 men “on a good day” and “between five and 10 men on a bad day.”
According to Rosemary, many things have changed in the last 30 years as “nowadays I see young girls joining us here and within days, they would be driving their own vehicles or running businesses. Unfortunately, some of them steal from customers. They make quick money and invest well, but compared to years back, they are now too extreme even in their dressing. We used to dress nicely without exposing our breasts or butts to attract men.”
She reveals that “Sleeping with more than 10 men for KSh50 each was a windfall because making KSh500 in a day was the equivalent of earning about KSh5000 today.”
She adds that: “It has been a long journey and I’ve slept with more than 5,000 men in more than 20 years I’ve been in the field. Even my children know it and used to visit but when they grew up and started their families, they stopped frequenting Nairobi.”
Rosemary, a staunch baptised Christian who never misses church on Sunday, is considering retirement because “nowadays we depend on long-term customers. In fact, I had started a small leso business after getting KSh70,000 loan from a local bank, but fire razed down my house and shop in March. Even my baptismal card and other documents were burnt. That and other problems pushed me back to the business.”
NB: 1 KShs = 35 UGX
Source: Evewoman Magazine