Kenyan preacher Jane Watiri was one of Nairobi’s most popular prostitutes when she was still practicing the profession.
She could earn nearly 20,000 shillings a night.
According to Watiri, she was a “destroyer”, driven by revenge against men.
She was not on the streets just for the money, but also for revenge. She says that she transformed the sorrow that overwhelmed her when she was betrayed by a man into a personal vendetta against all men.
Now she reassures that the naive girl who arrived on Koinange Street in 1997 at the age of 17 has changed.
“I was not the average prostitute,” she says, adding, “I was pretty dangerous. I used to steal my clients’ clothes, shoes, phones, keys and even wedding rings that I sold and I used to really mess these men up,” she says.
Born 38 years ago in the Huruma Estate of the Kenyan capital, Watiri was the third born in a family of six children.
Her parents provided everything she needed. Towards the end of her elementary school education, her life took a bad turn. She got in bad company and refused to go to high school.
“I had friends who took me to clubs and reggae parties when I was 14,” she recalls.
The teenager then fell into a life of clubbing and alcoholism while her mother watched helplessly.
At the age of 16, Watiri was arrested, charged with loitering and imprisoned at Lang’ata Women’s Prison for a month.
When she came out, she met a young man, fell in love, pregnant and got married.
“One day he left me for an older woman and there I was 17, with a little boy, no education and no work. I was very angry,” she says. “I wanted to hurt all men as my father’s father did to me. Bitterness and resentment can really destroy your life.”
She also claims that she changed her look every week so she would not be recognized by the customers she stole their items.
According to Watiri, the life of a prostitute is punctuated by dangerous clients, drug and alcohol abuse, arrests, illnesses and deaths.
While the majority of clients would pay for sex, others just wanted to be with a woman and have someone to talk to.
Others required unusual activities and threatened to use firearms and other weapons if prostitutes did not comply.
Many of her colleagues died at work. Some of them were killed in hotel rooms and others were entering customers’ vehicles and disappearing or found dead in a ditch.
“I read a lot of praise for my friends and attended funerals,” she says.
In 2004 a man told her about God’s love, but she was too drunk to understand.
“In all my life, I have never known love and attention. The idea of love was very strange. He bought me several bottles of beer and left.”
“After, I started to think about changing,” she says.
Shortly after, she decided to leave the streets and entered a church one day and asked the pastor to pray for her.
Today, the prostitute who becomes a preacher offers advice to sex workers, while encouraging them to change.