You don’t have to spend a lot of time at the Kenyan coast to know that child prostitution and sex tourism are rampant there. In Mombasa and Malindi, it is common to see aging white men well into their 70s and 80s with girls young enough to be their granddaughters.
Many of the children being exploited are not from the coast region but are imported from rural areas from around the country.
Locals tolerate this type of sexual exploitation because, as one put it to me recently, “nothing gets a family out of poverty faster than a daughter who has a white boyfriend.” In many cases, girls are encouraged by none other than their parents and relatives to look for older white men who will not only pay the girl for her services, but her family as well.
ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children – KENYA
ECPAT International, 2007
Commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) in Kenya is often conducted through organised networks in private houses. Mombasa, Kenya’s second largest and a major port city, has been identified as one of the main cities where CSEC takes place. It is a notorious location for sailors and marines who, while docking there, sexually exploit children. Reportedly, when an American Navy Aircraft carrier docks in Mombasa, girls can come from as far away as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda, Burundi, Tanzania or Uganda.
A number of agencies have reported on the growing incidence of child sex tourism in the past five years, especially along the coastal areas. The UNICEF study, The Extent and Effect of Sex Tourism and Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Kenyan Coast, conducted and released in 2006, indicates that up to 30 per cent of all the 12 to 18-year-olds living in the coastal areas of Malindi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Diani are involved in casual sex work. As such, it is estimated that 10,000 to 15,000 girls living in these areas are being sexually exploited in tourism at irregular intervals or seasonally.
A further 2,000 to 3,000 girls and boys are sexually exploited year-round by sex tourists, in these same areas. Other estimates suggest that as many as 30,000 girls between the ages of 12 and 14 are lured into hotels and private villas to be sexually exploited. During the low tourism season, local demand sustains the sexual exploitation of children. Children involved in prostitution are also compelled to provide sex to locals who help them gain access to tourists, such as beach boys, bar staff, waiters and others. These illegal activities involve tour operators, hotels and well-connected agents.
Chad child scandal can hit Kenya
Munene Kilongi, Nairobi, Africa News, 14 November 2007
In Kenya, nearly 30 percent of children between the ages of 12 to 18 years are engaged in child prostitution according to a study by UNICEF last year. Most of these children can be found in urban areas. The practice is most prevalent in the coast province which is a favourite haunt for paedophiles disguised as tourists. Although sexual exploitation of children is a criminal offence under Kenya’s penal code and also the children’s act, a study by UNICEF last year found an extremely high level of acceptance of commercial sexual abuse by those most closely involved with them including parents.
Video found at: Tamara Peeples