News / Africa

    NGO: Kenyan Coast a Haven for Child-Porn Producers

    Seventeen year-old sex worker checks email on his mobile phone, Mombasa, Kenya, July 21, 2012 (VOA/Jill Craig).
    Seventeen year-old sex worker checks email on his mobile phone, Mombasa, Kenya, July 21, 2012 (VOA/Jill Craig).
    Jill Craig
    MOMBASA – Kenya's coastal region is one of the nation's poorest, a place where vacationers have long exploited rampant poverty and lax law enforcement, allowing its sex-tourism industry to flourish.
     
    As early as 2006, UNICEF reported between 2,000 and 3,000 Kenyan girls and boys are involved in a full-time, year-round commercial sex trade.
     
    In recent years, however, NGO workers have noticed that more children are becoming involved in pornography, unwittingly or otherwise. 
     
    “We’ve been hearing that there are people who come [specifically] to do pornography - and the younger the child, the better the movie," says Grace, a Mombasa-based rights advocate for women and children who has asked that her last name be withheld. "So most of them go for young children."
     
    An advocate for more than eight years, Grace says many of the children with whom she works are reporting an increase in clients taking photographs of them nude or having sex.
     
    "They pay, and by going for the young children, we have many cases coming up that many are going into the trade," she says.
     
    At 22 years of age, Jasmine is employed as a sex worker on the north coast of Mombasa. When she was underage, she says, she once agreed to have sex with a German man she had met at a bar.
     
    “So then I stayed with him for four days, then I noticed," she says, explaining that the man had been recording their entire interaction with a camera the size of a button.
     
    "I know how to use [a] computer. I asked to check my emails ... I saw everything we were doing, he had recorded it," she says. "Then I was asking him, [and] he told me ‘it’s gonna sell for a lot of money.’ When he gets money, he’s going to send for me. I told him, ‘why didn’t you tell me? You could have told me, we could have agreed, because I need money too.”
     
    Availability of technology, ease of digital distribution
     
    Maureen Karisa, Solidarity with Women in Distress (SOLWADI) CEO, says her field officers are seeing new cases of child pornography on a daily basis.
     
    “There are some who even take that pornography with just a pen," she says. "I think it’s the technology that has come in. That they’re able to [record] ... you when you’re not even aware of what is happening, and then they go and sell it.” 
     
    But some children know exactly what is happening.
     
    John started sex work when he was nine. He did his first pornographic film when he was 11 and his second when he was 13. Now 17 years old and a junior in high school, he says a European man - a self-professed “filmmaker” - had boys and girls sign a consent form to be recorded having group sex, even though Kenyan law defines anyone under the age of 18 as a child.
     
    The production, he says, took place at a rented Mombasa brothel, where it could be staged without attracting attention. After being presented with alcohol and encouraged to drink, the children, he says, had unprotected group sex with older men before a production team.
     
    “The worst thing is, we did it unprotected," says John, explaining that young children are too naïve to understand the importance of protecting themselves and that older men see them as disposable. "You can see how dangerous that can be, without doing any kind of protection.”
     
    Laws unenforced
     
    According to Ruweidah Hussein, program officer with Muslims for Human Rights (MUHURI), the absence of legal protection only serves to give more confidence to offenders.
     
    “I think it’s happening more and more because people are not punished about it," she says, describing inadequate law enforcement as perhaps the primary reason few cases aren't brought forth.
     
    "Issues of pornography is a very big offense in our country," she says. "They’ve made very beautiful laws that say child pornography is a very big crime, but no one is there to monitor such activities.”
     
    Grace, too, agrees that even though prostitution is illegal in Kenya, it will continue with impunity if laws continue to go unenforced and the local child-porn production industry continues to be ignored.
     
    “[Tourists] don’t come to see animals, trees, zebras in [the] Masai Mara, but they come specifically to exploit our young, coming generation," she says of the coastal region. "It is high time [that] I think all of us should sit and think on the issues of our children. If you don’t come up with what to do, and how to go about this issue, it is really becoming a time bomb.” 

    You May Like

    How Aleppo Rebels Plan to Withstand Assad's Siege

    Rebels in Aleppo are laying plans to withstand a siege by Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s forces in likelihood the regime cuts a final main supply line running west of city

    Probe Targeting China's Statistic Head Sparks Concern

    Economists now asking what prompted government to launch an investigation only months after Wang Baoan had been vetted for crucial job

    HRW: Both Sides in Ukraine Conflict Targeted, Used Schools

    Rights group documents how both sides in Ukraine conflict carried out attacks on schools and used them for military purposes

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: Lloyd from: Queensland
    August 16, 2012 8:29 PM
    Grace, I wish you the best of luck.

    by: Godwin from: Nigeria
    August 16, 2012 3:36 PM
    A time bomb you call it. Why not? The best you can ever produce - who is president of the most powerful country in the world is the number one supporter of immorality and ungodliness. If Kenya can remotely support that evil by the first ever black and African president of the world, you must be right to expect a timed explosion of even more and worse evil not only in the coastal Kenya, but an antichrist is definitely born, and is of Kenyan origin. The end of the world comes when people will no longer regenerate or procreate, and when children are destroyed in their infancy. If this spreads everywhere, the name of the game - the end result, is DOOM.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growthi
    X
    February 10, 2016 5:54 AM
    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Russia's Car Sales Shrink Overall, But Luxury and Economy Models See Growth

    Car sales in Russia dropped by more than a third in 2015 because of the country's economic woes. But, at the extreme ends of the car market, luxury vehicles and some economy brands are actually experiencing growth. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
    Video

    Video Civil Rights Pioneer Remembers Struggle for Voting Rights

    February is Black History Month in the United States. The annual, month-long national observance pays tribute to important people and events that shaped the history of African Americans. VOA's Chris Simkins reports how one man fought against discrimination to help millions of blacks obtain the right to vote
    Video

    Video Jordanian Theater Group Stages Anti-Terrorism Message

    The lure of the self-styled “Islamic State” has many parents worried about their children who may be susceptible to the organization’s online propaganda. Dozens of Muslim communities in the Middle East are fighting back -- giving young adults alternatives to violence. One group in Jordan is using dramatic expression a send a family message. Mideast Broadcasting Network correspondent Haider Al Abdali shared this report with VOA. It’s narrated by Bronwyn Benito
    Video

    Video Migrant Crisis Fuels Debate Over Britain’s Future in EU

    The migrant crisis in Europe is fueling the debate in Britain ahead of a referendum on staying in the European Union that may be held this year. Prime Minister David Cameron warns that leaving the EU could lead to thousands more migrants arriving in the country. Meanwhile, tension is rising in Calais, France, where thousands of migrants are living in squalid camps. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
    Video

    Video Valentine's Day Stinks for Lebanese Clowns

    This weekend, on Valentine's Day in Lebanon, love is not the only thing in the air. More than half a year after the country's trash crisis began, the stink of uncollected garbage remains on the streets. Step forward "Clown Me In," a group of clowns who use their skills for activism. Before the most romantic day of the year the clowns have released their unusual take on love in Lebanon -- in a bid to keep the pressure up and get the trash off the streets. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Families Flee Aleppo for Kurdish Regions in Syria

    Not all who flee the fighting in Aleppo are trying to cross the border into Turkey. A VOA reporter caught up with several families heading for Kurdish-held areas of northern Syria.
    Video

    Video Rocky Year Ahead for Nigeria Amid Oil Price Crash

    The global fall in the price of oil has rattled the economies of many petroleum exporters, and Africa’s oil king Nigeria is no exception. As Chris Stein reports from Lagos, analysts are predicting a rough year ahead for the continent’s top producer of crude.
    Video

    Video 'No Means No' Program Targets Sexual Violence in Kenya

    The organizers of an initiative to reduce and stop rape in the informal settlements around Kenya's capital say their program is having marked success. Girls are taking self-defense classes while the boys are learning how to protect the girls and respect them. Lenny Ruvaga reports from Nairobi.
    Video

    Video Chocolate Lovers Get a Sweet History Lesson

    Observed in many countries around the world, Valentine’s Day is sometimes celebrated with chocolate festivals. But at a festival near Washington, the visitors experience a bit more than a sugar rush. They go on a sweet journey through history. VOA’s June Soh takes us to the festival.
    Video

    Video 'Smart' Bandages Could Heal Wounds More Quickly

    Simple bandages are usually seen as the first line of attack in healing small to moderate wounds and burns. But scientists say new synthetic materials with embedded microsensors could turn bandages into a much more valuable tool for emergency physicians. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Researchers Use 3-D Printer to Produce Transplantable Body Parts

    Human organ transplants have become fairly common around the world in the past few decades. Researchers at various universities are coordinating their efforts to find solutions -- including teams at the University of Pennsylvania and Rice University in Houston that are experimenting with a 3-D printer -- to make blood vessels and other structures for implant. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, they are also using these artificial body parts to seek ways of defeating cancerous tumors.
    Video

    Video Helping the Blind 'See' Great Art

    There are 285 million blind and visually impaired people in the world who are unable to enjoy visual art at a museum. One New York photographer is trying to fix this situation by making tangible copies of the world’s masterpieces. VOA correspondent Victoria Kupchinetsky was there as visually impaired people got a feel for great art. Joy Wagner narrates her report.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees With Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.