The media has been awash with reports of young women (slay queens) engaging with comparatively older men (sponsors) in sexual relationships for economic gain.

The parameters of such arrangements are more transactional and border on practices of the underworld. These arrangements are normally presented as love relationships, yet they are incepted more as black market economic enterprises. The men are mostly in marriages and of high-standing in society.

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They are businessmen, artists and political and religious leaders. The women are mostly single and either students, in early career ladder or upstarting business ladies. The men seek out these young women to access unexploited youthful sexual fantasies. In pursuit of these young lases, the men offer unrealistic promises, with no intention of fulfilling all. What is known but rarely discussed is the economic aspect of these sexual relationships. The women seek out the older and established men not for love but economic progress and good life while at it. College girls are in it to get marks, cash for upkeep and possibly start life after studies on a high note. Career ladies seek to influence their upward mobility using the influence of their partners now known in common parlance as sponsors. While those in business use this influence for opportunities to boost their turnover through capitalization and sales.

The slay queen is the latest variant of women in commercial sex as business. It is the sophisticated and modern version of prostitution. For long, prostitution has been regarded as the oldest trade. However, if looked at critically it would be established that the culture of slay queen is as old as that of prostitution. Cleopatra had used her charm and sexual appeal on Julius Caesar and Mark Antony to gain power, while in the Bible, Bathsheba pushed David to anoint her son Solomon successor while still a toddler.

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In these instances as is the current state of slay queen culture, the women in question deployed the allure of their curvaceous bodies. They used this to gain political and material favours instead of working their way up the ladder of power. As if taking cue from the ladies of old yore, prostitution has morphed into thrifty business. The ladies discovered that lining up along the red streets was not sustainable as age soon caught up with them. It was thus extremely important to make as much hay as possible while the curves lasted. In came the socialite; the girl who would spend time trimming and priming her body for display. The display of such toned and tanned bodies would come at premium costs.  The process of making the bodies pieces of sexual attraction involved delicate and sometimes painful surgical procedures. It is premised on the theme of combining the slender mzungu figure at the top with a generously well-endowed lower parts of the body, the African style. The slay queen is the hustler socialite. While the socialite considers herself high class and sophisticated, the slay queen is thrifty but both make money from their bodies.

What is not publicly acknowledged is the correlation of this emerging amoral business with the management of the economy. At the turn of the 21st century, Kenya has witnessed exponential growth in graft. In tandem, the underworld business enterprises have thrived and fed into corruption channels. Theft of public resources reached crescendo during the inaugural term of devolution. Suddenly, there was immense wealth at the local level without requisite vision and skills to manage the devolved government. Pilferage and outright theft became the order of the day.

Corruption was practiced with reckless abandon at both the national and county levels. The women who wanted quick riches, easy career progression and opulent lifestyle targeted the government honchos. The business cartels locally referred to as tenderpreneurs were not spared either. The symbiotic relationship between the tenderpreneurs and power barons created an open ended opportunity for pilferage. Funds would now flow freely from the public coffers to private pockets. The rate of flow of funds was higher than the capacity to absorb in terms of expenditure.

This therefore created an overflow known in economics as excess liquidity. The national and county officials lacked the necessary capacity and willful commitment to public good. Yet there was abundance of resources to support public service delivery. This was thus fertile ground for devious minds to exploit the loopholes. They developed networks of phony companies to supply imaginary services and goods to the government. Their payments were processed in record time and most of the time without regard to due procedure. The slay queens came in handy. They would be registered as owners of companies they had no idea of so as conceal trails of payments. In exchange, they would get portions of the funds wired through their accounts. Further, they would also provide sexual escapades and company for entertainment during the many exclusive parties. The parties would be organised in high end estates where it is alleged drugs are consumed in excess to provide cover the binge. Some became smart and also brought in their personal companies and demanded fictitious orders. In addition to processing the sponsors’ orders, they got also some in their names.

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Since the women engage in illicit but luscious sexual relationship, blackmail has been introduced into the game. Government officials, business leaders and to some extent the clergy have found themselves intricately entangled in this web. They need graft to finance their opulent lifestyle and yet cannot disengage from the pioneer conduits. New entrants are recruited regularly and inducted into the game. The women trick the sponsors into compromising outings where they record the happy happenings for future use. The recordings would be useful for blackmail to leverage in government business. They could also be used for extortion or in some cases both. The sponsors are highly placed and, therefore, allow to be deluded by power and influence. Most of the time, they throw caution to the wind and later regret the consequences of their relationships. Many have been cited for child neglect and compelled by courts to support their former slay queens, while others have cooled their heels in the correctional facilities for corruption-related offenses. Corruption has thus helped develop the culture of slay queen into a thriving underground business enterprise.

The relationship between corruption and the culture of slay queen has promoted strong desire for easy, extravagant and exhibitionist lifestyle. It has helped thrust young women into the murky world of corruption and Mafiosi.

The women in this league have learnt the ropes and some have mastered the modus operandi. The recent events in Kenya’s fight against grand corruption exposed the extent of women’s role in graft. Previously corruption was treated as a men only game and no woman was ever suspected of economic crimes. However, since the NYS I and II scams, the nation witnessed in shock the number and ages of women involved in the plundering of public resources. The women charged with economic crimes had traits in common. They were young with questionable educational background, but rare courage to execute mega deals. They had quickly amassed material possessions in unexplained circumstances. They had excess makeup and had no qualms exposing their ignorance. They flaunted their bodies in a manner of cat-walk display. They lived large and frowned upon those who dare questioned their source of wealth.

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In the mix are college students who consider their education and training as insignificant to their life success. In one way or the other, they were linked to powerful individuals in high places. The bond between them and the power men was more of sexual than business nature. On occasions disagreements have arisen between the sponsor and the slay queen on the implementation of the relationship. Since the relationships are governed by underworld business rules, elimination becomes inevitable. Cases of gruesome murders have been linked to these corruption-fueled relationships. Many of these are never reported, and disappear without public and police scrutiny. There are many cases of women killed in unclear circumstances. Many men have died in strange circumstances suspected to have involved consumption of libido enhancing drugs. Meanwhile, the complex web of corruption and economic sex continues to grow.

Credits: The Star