Say prostitute and most Batswana immediately think of streetwalkers, who usually solicit business from public sidewalks, but a more discreet sex trade industry in burgeoning in Gaborone, thanks to the cell phone revolution.
High – class Gaborone women, rich men and young executives are making the world’s oldest profession technologically savvy where cell phones are used to buy and sell sex. It’s a secret world with strict rules of confidentiality.
The cell phone has become the new street corner and connection between clients and prostitutes are usually made by an underground word of mouth system. At Cocktail parties and Gaborone up market pubs, men would usually trade cell-phone numbers of high end call girls who operate in a more discrete manner meant to draw as little attention as possible to themselves or their customers. “The growth of the country’s middle class has resulted in the demand for high-end entertainment, cuisine, and “wellness” goods and in the process an entirely new, upper-end “indoor” prostitution market as opposed to streetwalkers”, said an apologist of cell-phone prostitution.
“A luxury brand has been born. These changes have made sex for hire more expensive. But luxe pricing has in turn helped make prostitution more discreet. Whereas in the past an executive looking for a quick fix would have been forced to lean out his car window and call out to a woman at a traffic light, now they can have a secretive tryst”, he said.
Most of these women have a ready and more lucrative market in Gaborone’s growing stag party sub-culture. They do not have to go on the streets, where prices are lowest and life is harshest. Their clients are usually referrals who are prepared to pay a lot of money for sex. So they do not have to deal with unfamiliar and potentially dangerous customers, the source revealed. As the high end of prostitution is less risky and more lucrative, it has attracted some middle-class women seeking quick tax-free income. Most of these high-end prostitutes are by and large, either full-time students or career women moonlighting for extra cash and their client base consists largely of executive types ranging in age from 30 to late 60s, sometimes with wives and children safely ensconced in houses on leafy suburbs.
A survey by the Ministry of Health recently revealed the secret double lives of high class Batswana prostitutes: They have steady boyfriends, work as nurses, bankers, and teachers or attend school as students during the day and moonlight as sex workers at night. According to the survey of the Most At Risk Populations (MARPS) that was presented at the National Aids Council last month, 49.5 percent of sex workers are in the category of between 20 and 29 years age. The survey states that “these are normally school going or employable women”. The survey also states that 50.9 percent of sex workers have steady boyfriends while 51.4 percent had been to Senior Secondary School.?The study says 60 percent of the respondents had no other employment, suggesting that 40 percent are employed. It emerged that some of the respondents of the survey are nurses, bankers, teachers and other gainfully employed persons.