Modern technology has changed the face of prostitution with the practice moving from poorly lit back streets to some of the most exclusive estates in major cities.
In Mombasa, many twilight girls who used to linger around night clubs and guest houses have moved to secluded areas where they procure clients over the Internet.
Instead of physically booking rooms with their clients in lodges, the girls now use modern video transmission methods such as Skype to reach clients the world over for a fee.
But stakeholders in the tourism industry have raised the alarm, saying the practice is not only giving the country a bad name, but numerous foreigners are using exclusive residential areas to carry out illegal businesses and evade tax.
Mombasa Governor Hassan Joho said a team has been constituted to review all licences of entertainment joints, and those found not abiding with set rules will be shut down.
Mr Joho raised concern over some operators who are flouting operational rules by allowing prostitution and nudity in their premises.
He told foreigners doing business in Mombasa County to obtain permits and warned that those who operate brothels in their residential homes will be arrested and charged.
The sophistication of prostitution became evident last week when police raided a five-bedroom luxury house in Nyali and recovered 15 laptops that were all connected to wireless Internet (WiFi). The house also had high-speed broadband.
Kisauni Criminal Investigations Department boss Shadrack Juma confirmed numerous computer devices and transmitters were confiscated from the house where 11 women and a Swiss national, Christopher Clement Weissenrieder, were arrested.
Mr Juma said the equipment was being used to transmit pornographic videos to a number of sharing websites, adding that they had been dispatched to CID headquarters in Nairobi for further analysis.
“We expect the experts in Nairobi will retrieve vital information, which will help us as evidence in our case since we have charged them with various offences relating to pornography contrary to section (b) of the Sexual Offences Act,” said Mr Juma.
Investigations by the Sunday Nation revealed that women engaging in this type of prostitution are paid according to the amount of money received from their pen pals from various European countries where most of their clients reside.
The main business revolves around taking nude photos and pornographic videos and sending them to consumers in those countries online. The Sunday Nation has established that hundreds of Kenyan girls have subscribed to various sex chat sites, which feature live webcam models streaming direct from their homes and studios to various parts of the world. The chats stream live sex shows online where whoever wishes to watch pays using various modes of money transfer.
One 25-year-old woman who lives in a luxury villa where the trade is carried out said the house that was raided was just one of dozens in the posh Nyali estate, as well as a number of cottages in Mtwapa, Malindi and South Coast where the practice is common.
“I am shocked that people regard the Nyali case as unique. There are many private homes and cottages where such business is going on,” she said, adding that rent for such houses, some of which are leased by foreigners, ranges between Sh150,000 and Sh200,000 a month.
She added: “We feel this is a safe way of earning our living since most of our clients are abroad, and only view performances online. Unlike street prostitution where you might be identified by one of your family members or your friends, here you are secluded and there is privacy.”
“Most of these homes are owned by foreigners and rich business people while some of the girls are drawn from colleges. The majority are from the streets where they had been practising prostitution,” the woman, who did not want to be identified saying it would compromise on her personal security, said.
Last week’s saga, with claims of bestiality, has been described by some Mombasa residents as just a tip of the iceberg. The Sunday Nation has learnt that the trade is rife in other towns at the Coast including Kilifi and Malindi.
National Agency for Campaign Against Alcohol and Drug Abuse director Sheikh Juma Ngao has asked the government to investigate where the films, which were allegedly being recorded in Nyali, may have been sold.