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I WAS VERY DANGEROUS! I was driven by vengeance against men and I hurt them, says retired prostitute


An ex-sex worker has spoken out about the pain and hatred that drove her to prostitution, and how dangerous she was while she was in the business.

38-year-old Jane Watiri made Nairobi’s red light district her home in 1997 when she was just 17 – and had been dumped by her husband.

“One day, he left me for an older woman and there I was, 17 years old, with a baby boy, no education and no job. I was very angry. “I wanted to hurt men the way the father of my child did to me. Bitterness and unforgiveness can really destroy your life,” she told Kenya’s Daily Nation.

Jane ruled Koinange Street, Nairobi’s Magosha road for the next seven years, earning as much as Sh20 000 a night. But her motivation was not just to make a living. It was also to take revenge on all men for the betrayals she had suffered.

Jane said:

“I was not the average prostitute. I was quite dangerous. I used to steal from my clients. I would carry everything; clothes, shoes, phones, keys and even wedding rings which I sold. I used to really mess up those men.”

She would carry two dagga joints, one soaked in petrol to knock out the client, and the other one for her, to put her in the mood for work. Life as a sex worker, said Jane, was full of dangers, drugs, arrests, disease and death.

“I read many eulogies of my friends and attended so many burials,” she said. In 2004, a meeting with a God-fearing man changed everything. 

“In my whole life, I never experienced love and care. The idea of love was very strange.

He bought me many bottles of beer and left. Afterwards, I started thinking of changing,” she says. 

Soon afterwards, Jane exchanged the streets for a church.

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Today Jane makes a living selling second-hand clothes and offers to counsel to sex workers, encouraging them to change their ways.


“One evening in December 2005, while waiting for a client at a city bar and restaurant, a man approached me and told me that Jesus loved me. I had never been religious. I had been a sex worker for seven years. I thought that Jesus was one of those white clients who liked to send other men out to the streets to get girls for them. Eager to be taken to this prospective rich client, I told him that I also loved Jesus.

“After buying me the drink and the cigarettes that I had demanded for my time, this man, who I later came to learn was a pastor, preached to me. When he left, I went back to looking for a client but something in me had changed. That was the first time I realised that there was a possibility of a different kind of life out here for me.

“Growing up, I was the middle child with a rebellious streak. My family lived in Ghetto area of Huruma Estate in Nairobi. My rebellion saw me drop out of school in Standard Five. This meant that I had all the time on my hands, which I spent with much older people. I started smoking cigarettes, which I soon upgraded to bhang.

“I was 16 when I first fell pregnant and promptly moved in with the father of my child. This relationship was shortlived and by the time I turned 20, I was all alone. I was inducted to the streets by a female friend. She told me that with a slim figure like the one I had, I could make thousands every night out in the streets. That first night, she taught me how to wear make-up, picked out a miniskirt for me and a flimsy top and showed me exactly where to stand on Koinange Street.

“This was the beginning of my seven years in the sex trade. I caught onto the trade fast. In a few short months, I knew all the clubs where I could meet potential customers. I learnt how to pick pockets and how to break into safes in the city hotels where I met clients. I knew which pastors could pray for a woman like me so that I could attract customers. I even went to a witchdoctor in Kawangware two times to see if he could turn my fortunes into marriage to a rich, white man, but he turned me away both times.

“I made a lot of money out there but I wasn’t living. I was drunk half the time. When I was sober, I was in a lot of pain. I carried with me a lot of anger at men because I felt my baby’s father had failed me.