As times change, especially with the constraints and restrictions brought about by the Covid19 pandemic, many professions across the globe have also continued to change their approach to their work so as to adapt and stay afloat in these tough times.
Many businesses including banking, retail trading, media among others have changed their business models to fit the new normal and the prostitution industry hasn’t been left behind.
Unlike the olden days where sex workers lined up on the streets at night waiting on clients or went in bars and brothels in search for customers, Covid19, Curfew and the closure of bars have made their work hard calling for innovation and adaptation.
Curfew in Uganda has been at 9:00PM since March 2020 limiting sex workers to only about two hours of the night to do their work.
This has led them to think of new ways to get clients during the day so they can earn a living and still be home in time for curfew.
Among the new models of work that sex workers have come up with is Searching for clients online using Tinder and other Social media channels. Finding someone to hook up with (i.e., only for a night of fun) is not something new, and usually happens in many countries, albeit in different ways. Some apps are designed especially for those looking to hook-up or for a casual one-night stand, with a quick search for “horny women near me” processing hundreds of results for websites and apps. With that being the case in different parts of the world, it is definitely a new angle in Kampala for sex workers especially. Those who are not internet-aware have turned into masseurs giving “happy endings” in massage parlors.
The Tower Post published an article about “The Reality of Sex Trade on Tinder and Social Media in Kampala” last month, and in this article, we expose how sex trade has penetrated massage parlors making them modern day brothels.
Inside the Massage Parlor
Word had been making rounds about multiple massage parlors that offered sex as an extra and my attention was drawn to one along Kireka-Namugongo Road (name withheld) which offered the same services.
I posed as a client seeking a relaxing professional massage claiming to have muscle fatigue and paining joints. The time is about 5:15PM on a Friday evening, I am led to the massage parlour by a boda boda rider. The parlour is about 5 minutes away from the main road.
At the reception, I was handed a “menu” with a list of the different types of massage offered at the facility. The piece of paper had accompanying erotic images that would give you an optical feel of what to expect for every type listed.
Among the types of massage offered was Nuru-body-to-body massage, Swedish massage, deep tissue massage and Four hands massage.
“Four hands means you’ll have two girls massaging you at the same time. For Nuru, the girl will soak her naked body in oil and rub it against your body. This is the most relaxing,” the lady at the reception (let’s call her Bridget) explains to me as I begin to grow more curious with questions.
“Swedish massage is a simple one, just to cool off your stress and Deep tissue is the one where they press your veins hard to relieve of any pains,” Bridget adds.
Not to blow my cover, I opted for the Swedish massage.
Meanwhile, five young ladies (average age 21-29) are seated across, dressed in skimpy clothes as they eagerly wait for you.
After making a payment, you are led to the ladies from whom you choose who should give you the massage.
Private Massage Rooms.
The young lady led me to one of the private rooms where I would get my relaxing massage. The room had dim romantic lights, a very nice fragrance all pointing to a very spectacular experience ahead.
I was nervous because I wanted to get the information I was looking for but still didn’t want them to know my mission.
“I would like to take a shower first, it’s been a long day,” I asked.
The lady (let’s call her Sharon) handed me a white towel leading me to the bathroom.
As I started with my shower, she rolled slow soothing music to set the mood for the massage. My clothes were kept in a drawer together with my other belongings including my phone.
“We don’t allow phones during the massage session, that’s why I have kept everything here,” she said as she opened the drawer to show mw my belongings.
And in a matter of seconds, we were off to what would turn out to be the best massage I have ever had – it was my first massage.
“Please pay special attention to my joints and as for the rest, do what you think is best; you are the expert,” I said to her as she rubbed ticklish items on my feet.
She smeared olive oil on my back, and on my legs, rubbed her elbows in spaces beside my back bone and her hands harder between my thighs. It was really relaxing.
“Time is running out,” I thought to myself seeing as Sharon hadn’t suggested anything all through the session.
“How long have you been doing this?” I asked her.
“It’s not been long here but I was working at some other massage parlor in Kamwokya before I came here. By the way, do you want any extras?” she asked.
“What do you mean?” I asked as if I was green about the offer.
“I can give you a happy ending if you like. It’s okay, we just need to agree from here, you won’t need to pay for it at the reception,” she said.
“I can give you a hand job for 20k, a blow job for 50k and sex goes for 100k,” Sharon added as she advanced her hands further up my groin area.
“No, thanks. Is it common here?” I asked.
“Of course. Most of our customers come looking for these services and they leave satisfied. You should let me try, you won’t regret it,” she said.
“But isn’t this prostitution?” I pressed.
“Not really. We just offer massage and if someone is interested in sex, we give him but at an extra cost.”
“We are not paid any salary. We are given a small portion of what you pay at the reception and to make ends meet, we agree with clients offer sex and they give us some extra money. Life is hard.”
Sharon who was keen to justify why she offers sex revealed that in a day they receive between 10 to 15 customers all of them demanding to have sex after the massage.
“I am a single mother. In a day if I get like five clients, that 250,000. That can pay my rent and I remain with some balance to take care of my baby girl.”
“Sometimes we can make more money than the owner of the parlour,” she added explaining that married men are always willing to pay the money for sex compared to the single ones.
“Aren’t you worried about contracting HIV or other STDs?” I asked.
“Not all men want live sex. Also, live sex is expensive,” she said.
“In a day, you can get one man who wants live while others are always asking for condoms.”
Sex trade in massage parlors is wide spread across Kampala City and sources have indicated that even males are involved in the trade.
Married women are also frequenting massage parlors looking for satisfaction from youthful and mugged boys who offer the after massage services.