In Summary
  • Report cites Malindi, with high presence of resident and visiting Italians, as a sex tourism hub
  • The survey by a Dutch NGO finds that Italian, German and Swiss men form the bulk of the foreign tourists who sexually exploit these children, but it also says Kenyan men make up 39 per cent of the perpetrators.
  • According to the report, another element in the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Malindi are the female domestic workers who work in “guest cottages” that are mostly owned by expatriates.

Paedophiles and tourists looking for sex with underage girls and boys are shifting from the big hotels and establishments to private villas, smaller guest houses and boats sailing offshore to protect their dirty secrets, a new survey has revealed.

The number of children exploited in Kenya’s Indian Ocean coastal region has risen, and it is estimated that in Mtwapa alone between 10,000 and 20,000 children are trafficked for the purpose of sex tourism.

The survey by a Dutch NGO finds that Italian, German and Swiss men form the bulk of the foreign tourists who sexually exploit these children, but it also says Kenyan men make up 39 per cent of the perpetrators.

WITCHDOCTORS HIGHLY CONSULTED

The survey by Terre des Hommes Netherlands confirms earlier findings that the sex workers usually engage the services of witchdoctors to ensure they attract a steady supply of rich clients.

The researchers found that the allure of the foreign tourist is greater than that of a local tourist as he or she is often able to pay more and is likely to be a client who comes periodically, thereby allowing the women and girls to have more than one “boyfriend”.

Many of the girls and some boys provide a steady income to their impoverished parents. Others make tidy sums of money from procuring the girls to sex tourists.

Lead researcher Desmond Boi said the situation is appalling and requires that affected societies, the government, investors in the tourism industry and Non Govermental Organisations combine efforts if the practice is to be eradicated.

“It looks like many organisations have been glossing over the issue. When we went in, the magnitude, in my simple description, would be devastating. We are talking about children suffering the worst forms of exploitation,” Mr Boi told the Sunday Nation.

He said older members of the society seem to have accepted the exploitation as a way of life and a source of income.  

“The society has turned a blind eye because they draw income from it. We have pimps who take children to tourists for pay. They proudly say they have even paid school fees through these cruel activities,” he said.

Mr Boi says any investigator who wants to nail the big fish in the trade, including raiding hideouts, has only to pay a small amount of money but authorities may be unwilling to tackle the issue.

The research shows that the “deep sea” child sex tourism – where the “clients” rent a boat and sail into the ocean — is now becoming widespread.

 “The solitary environment makes it easy to coerce the child into meeting all the client’s demands. It was reported that a considerably higher number of victims are threatened or harmed with some even thrown into the sea,” according to the report that was concluded last month.

The deep sea exploitation of children is said to be favoured by foreign tourists because it offers them greater protection.

“Other players have since filled the vacuum, and these include small hotels, brothels, villas, taxi and tour operators. Workers in big hotels have also become link points between tourists with other agents who in turn link them to children. Simply put, child sex tourism has changed its face and has become more difficult to detect,” the report says.

“According to several key informants, boda boda has now emerged as a new sector contributing significantly to the increase in child exploitation. Boda Boda provides instant and regular income to the riders, most of them youths with no major financial burdens.

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