Connect to share and comment

Senegal draws tourists with sun, sea and sex

Female sex tourism in Senegal attracts women who will pay for romance.

Female sex tourism is often referred to as “love tourism,” and becomes a lifestyle for some women who make frequent trips to see a regular boyfriend or simply play the field.

Some see it as companionship with the promise of a pay-off at the end, but Ba and other Saly residents said it’s just plain old sex for money.

“You have no job, no nothing, and you see your friend living in a house and driving a car that his European girlfriend bought him,” Ba said, “She comes every month or so to visit and sends him money. You say to yourself, well, I could do that too."

Pape does not live in luxury.

The 30-year-old has a job in Dakar that pays him $250 a month. Half his paycheck goes to rent and he stretches the other half to cover his living expenses and to send funds to his elderly mother in Ivory Coast. Pape's friends and family don’t know about his 52-year-old Dutch girlfriend. They also don’t know about the gifts and $250 cash infusions she sends him, sometimes three times a month. 

"I'm a thing, her object, her toy, her property," he said. "If I had the choice financially, I wouldn't date her. I would never have started this."

Chain-smoking and downing two beers, Pape, started from the beginning.

He met the Dutch woman while working in Senegal’s southern Casamance region last January. She was there on vacation. They were staying in the same hotel.

"When I came back and went to sleep, she would knock on the door,” he said. “One night, she invited me into her room. I refused. It was weird. It was my friends who explained to me that she was interested."

When he returned to Dakar, she cried. Though hesitant, Pape agreed to meet her the next weekend in Zigunchor, a coastal city in Casamance.

"We went out that night. When we got back to the hotel, what was going to happen happened,” he said with a shrug. "She's well-preserved, considering her age.”

"I've never asked her, but I think she was there for sex," he said. "I'm afraid to ask.”

Since then, they Skype and talk on the phone. During her most recent visit last month, they traveled along the coast, passing through Saly.

"I saw quite a few young men there with old, white women. I began to question my morality. What are you doing with this old woman? She could be your mom. You've become a gigolo, someone who doesn't have ambition, someone who is ready to do anything for money,” he said.

When she left, Pape said he felt only relief.

"I'm not attracted to her,” he said. “I tried to avoid sex but she insisted. She complained. She says she loves me. She has helped me a lot, so now I feel like I have to give her something."

"We fight. I tell her I can't continue like this. She offers me money. She knows she can keep me,” he said.

The woman says she has found him an internship in Holland and offered to buy him a plane ticket. It's just grim reality, he says, that all the shame and guilt in the world won’t stop him from going if his visa is approved.

Years ago at a club in the Gambia, Pape saw a young man gyrating sexily in front of three old white women. One of the women reached out and patted his butt before shaking her head no, like it was a piece of fruit in the market.

"That memory comes back to me often lately," he said, stamping out one cigarette and lighting up another. "Once I find a good job, I will get my dignity back. But for now, I'm a prostitute."

Read more on female sex tourism:

Introduction: for love or money?

The Jordanian desert's other delight — sex tourism

Q&A: Romance on the road and what women want