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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: November 2019

4 - Selling Sex in Mombasa

Summary

Chapter 4 investigates neoliberal transformations by looking at the commercial sex industries of Mombasa and argues that neoliberal footprints are reproduced here as well – from the vast inequalities among women selling sex to individual entrepreneurship and intense competition for the clients. Neoliberal workings in creating divisions show a dual logic when it comes to commercial sex: individuals who manage to refashion themselves in line with the needs of the industry embrace entrepreneurial, business-like behaviour are successful in accumulation, whereas other women, who often are in a disadvantageous situation to start with, usually manage just to survive and thus are governed by a logic of livelihood. This duality of the logic governing sex work is reflected in sex workers' work patterns and their interactions with clients and each other. The first part of the chapter focuses on the ways in which women selling sex operate in the city and adapt their looks and behaviour to attract clients and make as much money as possible; the second part of the chapter interrogates questions of solidarity and competition, with witchcraft narratives arising as a moral commentary on neoliberal duality.