By Angela L. Braden
Tourism in Kenya is booming as visitors all over the world visit Malindi, a coastal town on the continent of Africa that is said to be a tropical paradise. According to BBC Africa, the beautiful beaches aren’t the only draw for tourists. The news outlet reports that child prostitution and child p*rnography is on the rise in the coastal town, and the partakers of the child s*x trade in Malindi are foreign tourists.
Charlotte Attwood, a reporter for BBC Africa, said that she talked to several children as young as 12 and all under 18 who admitted to accepting money from tourists in exchange for s*x. One 16-year-old girl named Maria told Attwood that she is able to “strike a deal for $60” with the tourists. Another girl said that in a “good month,” she can service a paying tourist each day. This is significant, being that these working boys and girls are making more in two days than many of the teachers in Kenya make in a month.
According to BBC, most of the foreign tourists who are traveling to Malindi and soliciting the children are “Italian men between the ages of 50 and 80.” Many of the kids see these Italians as being wealthy and their one-way ticket out of abject poverty. So, many children are easily lured into the trade. And sadly, due to poverty being a huge problem in the coastal town, parents don’t ask questions when their children return home with the money.
Authorities have barred children from visiting the tourists in the hotels in Malindi to impede the practice. However, that has caused the trade to go underground. Authorities say that the children are going to private villas and even caves to meet with the men.
One boy took Attwood to a local cave that he says is a favorite nesting area for “s*x tourists.” He told Attwood that “as the tide comes in, the caves become cut off from the rest of the beach.” He also told her that the dead seaweed on the floor of the caves is often used as a mattress.
In addition, the boy told Attwood that some of the men like to “involve dogs” in the acts with the children. He said that the pedophiles will pay up to $500 to film the beastly acts.
Because the illegal practice is hardly reported, authorities have had a difficult time combating the problem. Law officials believe that the lure of money keeps children, families, and corrupt police officers silent on the issue. Meanwhile, children in Malindi continue to be abused and exploited by foreigners who have no regard for the children’s safety or psychological well-being.
The children, however, have a different point-of-view.
“It’s right because they give us money,” said Maria. “It shouldn’t be stopped.”