Kenya:Child sex tourism lives on despite government interventions
By Prabalta Rijal
Sept 21, Nairobi: Kenya which has long been known for its wild life and lazy beaches has turned into a child sex hub, where sex tourism is thriving.
Gone are the days when tourists would relax by the beach, today men mostly in their 50's and 60's can be seen walking into small townships and poverty stricken areas for their prey which are usually underage girls. According to reports towns like Malindi and Mombasa have become a favorite destination for tourists looking for sex. " a child sex worker earns more than their teachers do in a month, just in a matter of days making this a lucrative trade for people living in poverty," a statement issued by Walk Free Foundation stated.
According to a study, a lot of parents do not even ask their children where the extra money comes from because of the situation they are living in. "Foreigners usually pick up our girls from night clubs and bars, these men think they can get away with absolutely anything," a child right activist told The Oslo Times.
"My fifteen year-old daughter has started sneaking out at night, but I can't even stop her, we have a very small income and lots of stomachs to fill," said Sofiya a mother of five in Mombasa.
According to her, there are children prostituting themselves in so many homes. "As parents we feel helpless," she added, trying not to cry.
The thrills of a glittery life away from poverty have driven many children into night clubs, dressed in high heels and miniskirts, they hope to catch a white man, who tend pay them more than what their school teachers usually earn in a month. "My parents didn’t even have money to buy me shoes," Leyla a fifteen year-old child sex worker said.She was ten when she ran away from home and her journey has not always been glittery, some men mistreat us, we aren’t even paid sometimes," she added.
According to her, over the years the number of children in this trade has increased, "there are so many girls scouting for men these days, not the usual handful you would see several years back," she added.
Though Kenya has better economy than most countries in that region a study done by Unicef several years ago states that the industry could involve 10,000 to 15,000 girls in the coastal regions of Malindi, Mombasa, Kalifi and Diani. This apparently today is considered an underestimation as new studies by UN aid agencies Trace Kenya reveal that over 40,000 children involved in this trade in some way or the other in Mombasa alone.
Stories like these are rampant and the number of children prostituting themselves is growing despite efforts made by the government to prevent this trade and though awareness is growing the children in Kenya are paying a hefty price as they battle not only poverty but also unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
The Oslo Times
(The names of the children and their parents have been changed in this story)