Tackling the ever-changing faces of prostitution in Tanzania

Sunday October 17 2021
Prostitution pic

Prostitutes at work. PHOTO|FILE

By Julius Maricha

Prostitution is one of the oldest trades that come in several forms despite the fact that it remains illegal in many countries including Tanzania.

Though efforts have been taken to slow down and get rid of the illegal but widespread trade, the undisputable fact is that the women, girls and their clients change tact by dynamiting the trade.

It now takes a very keen eye to identify a prostitute as many try to beat the long arm of the law which had always kept them on the run.

However, not all the prostitutes changed tact, few amongst them are still brave enough to stay by the roadsides waiting for potential clients and run away when there is police patrol in the area.

Faces of prostitution


Life&Style discovered that there are different faces of prostitution, apart from the commonly known where prostitutes stay by the roadside in some of these big cities and business hubs such as Dar es Salaam.

1. Social media

Social media platforms such as Instagram, WhatsApp groups, Tinder, telegram groups and many others currently have been used to promote prostitution trade whereby different active pages upload posts with sexual content with price tag for clients.

It’s become normal for pages with sexual content on social media networks, especially Instagram, to comment on pages of prominent figures of the country such as artists and businessmen with context to promote the illegal trade.

James Arnold (fake name), said he was added to a WhatsApp group oriented in sexual content by a stranger who claimed to be given his phone number by one of James’s close friends.

The group’s settings allowed only admins to send messages whereby only five members out of over 250 were women and the admins would send their nude pictures and videos with instructions on how to meet them, prices to be paid in advance and price to be paid during the service.

“They all wanted an amount of money between Sh15,000 and Sh70,000 but with differences in terms of condition,” he explained.

He added that it is very hard to know them unless you are a client since they do everything on their phones until you meet them.

2. Room renting

There is a habit of prostitutes renting rooms and use it in their trade famous as Vijumba vya wahaya in different locations in Dar es Salaam such as Tip-top at Manzese and Mwananyamala.

One of the Tip-top residents, Elisha Japhet, said prostitutes started life by renting rooms in the area years back as normal tenants but after sometime, dangerous indicators such as finding used condoms near houses thrown carelessly started to rise.

“They normally use abusive language which makes it easier for one to be able to differentiate them from other residents in our area,” he said.

“It is a grievance to us residents as we really fear for our children’s morals since they observe a lot of dirty behaviour from a young age. I feel like we are living in cursed place,” he added.

On his part, another resident, Erick Mussa, explained the interior environment of the rooms used for the trade to contain content such as a bed, stove, pot(s) and boxes of condoms useful for their illegal trade services.

He went on to say, most clients of the trade come at night due to the need to remain anonymous with their extracurricular activities.

“Honestly, some of their clients are people who you can’t even begin to imagine would be engaged in this activity,” he said.

He added, “I never thought that some well-off individuals would be part of this culture but now I know that they fuel this trade.”

3. Auctioneers

A couple of trusted sources told Life&Style that there are many people in the streets who collaborate with prostitutes by linking them with different clients.

Most auctioneers are between the ages of 25 to 35 years and the illegal trade is dominated by men more than it is by women.

They say, some auctioneers require advance payment before linking a client to a prostitute, others get paid by the prostitutes after bringing them customers while some are paid by both the client and the prostitute.

One of the sources said prostitutes grabbed the opportunity to use jobless youth in the illegal trade to get them clients without going out to bars, clubs or hotels to search.

“If you’re not strong enough you will accept; they really know how to persuade and cheat men so that they can get paid,” he said

He stressed, that all they want is money, and they never care about your health.

Furthermore, he said prostitution auctioneers pave the way for the prostitutions to meet high profile clients such as riche men and public figures in secrecy.

4. Hotels, guest houses and lodges

There are reports of prostitutes who book rooms in hotels, guest houses and lodges in agreement with the owners or managers to pay according to the illegal trade conditions set.

Others say that some hotel, guest house and lodge owners schedule prostitutes to pay for a room and give them discounts if their clients spend heavily on food and other services.

Eva Pascal who was once the lodge worker in Tabata said it is hard to recognize a lodge or guest house that hides prostitutes unless you’re told.

“Some dishonest managers and owners (of guest houses and lodges) keep them (prostitutes) just like other guests,” she explained.

5. Employees and entrepreneurs

Rosemary Edward (fake name), a resident in Dar es Salaam, said she had a workmate who was always being picked up by different cars every day.

The day she tried to ask about her contemplative behaviour, she refused to explain and warned her to stay out of her sight and after investigating she found out that her colleague is a prostitute.

“The second time I followed her, I made it clear that I knew she was a prostitute and it was then that she revealed that she does it to raise money to run her supermarket,” she said.

“I was surprised by her story but after a short while I came to know three more women in the company who do the same,” she added.

How can we remedy the change?


The government holds the power to run a thorough investigation to understand the many faces of prostitution in detail and what gives it the power to continue to exist so as to get a solution and end it as it affects country.

Abilay Pazzi, chairperson of Tupendane Street in Manzese said back in the day, there were prostitutes in his street who would collaborated with community police. “I think the local government should organize patrol in their streets to end that dirty trade,” he said.


There is need to build a teaching habit from an early age on the negative impact of illegal trades including the prostitution trade to reduce the number of girls and women who engage in the trade as it results in issues such as Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs), Human Immuno-deficiency Virus (HIV) and more which contribute to the reduction of the national workforce.

Gaudensia Emmanuel is an independent psychologist and say plenty of philosophical statements have proven that human thoughts shape behaviour so what a human does tells a prevailing story in their mind.

“It is never normal for a human being to prioritize anything before herself, it’s obvious they are psychologically affected,” Emmanuel said.

Godwin Harrison, an independent psychologist says that the Tanzanian society has been ignoring the causes that lead the girls and women to engage in the illegal trade but abuse is a common theme in the lives and backgrounds of many prostitutes where many were abused as children, either physically or sexually or both.

“In the fight to end prostitution, we must stop abuse which is a cause for most girls to escape and engage in illegal businesses,” Harrison said.


Ms Emmanuel says that government in collaboration with the families of prostitutes who had been arrested by authorities in the country should make an effort to know exactly what led to their engagement in this illegal trade so as to help her to get out of it.

“We must feel accountable for our girls who dared to become prostitutes, we must stand together as the country to end that trade,” she said.

Pazzi said the country has been lacking the unity needed to get rid of the illegal business for a while even though it is well known that everyone’s contribution is needed to end the trade.

“Both the government and citizen need to unite to get rid of prostitution; citizens should report those who engage in the trade and where to get them and government should take action towards every concern from the citizens,” Pazzi stressed.

In addition, he said the media has a great deal to do with the matter due to the indisputable fact that it can reach more people, educate them and bring about a positive attitude among communitpy members.

“If everyone is involved and accountable in this issue it will surely remain history in this country,” he added.