The Kenyan government has been urged to implement new laws on sex tourism. The Country’s Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission acting chair Tecla Namachanja said lax laws are to blame for sexual exploitation of children in coastal provinces. “Many young children in the area are now selling themselves to tourists and making the region lag behind academically,” she said.
During the TJRC’s hearings in Mombasa yesterday, parents recorded statements on how their children are engaging in sex tourism. Namachanja said: “It appears that all the government does is to enact laws in order to conform to international obligations without the will to enforce them. Otherwise how does one explain the fact that despite the laws it has enacted, thousands of children continue to be defiled and exploited in sex tourism at the Coast?”
She said most parents attributed the problem to the high level of poverty in the region and challenged residents to take more interest in education to uplift their living standards.
According to the United Nations Children’s Fund, some 30,000 children in Mombasa, Kilifi, Malindi, Ukunda and Kwale are being exploited in the sex industry and this is likely to be an underestimation due to the lack of monitoring and the social stigma that inhibit children from reporting some of the cases.
In 2006 a UNICEF report showed that Kenyan citizens topped the list of abusers, accounting for 38% of pedophiles; Italians, Germans and Swiss were the worst culprits among the tourists, representing 18%, 14% and 12%, respectively. British, French, American, Ugandan, Tanzanian, Congolese, Japanese, Indian, Austrian and Arab molesters were also recorded.