Kenyan church leaders alarmed at growth of sex tourism

Kenyan church leaders alarmed at growth of sex tourism

By staff writers
22 Dec 2006

Church leaders in Kenya have called for action following a report showing that sex tourism and sexual exploitation of children have reached an alarming proportion on the coast of the East African country where thousands of foreigners and local tourists celebrate Christmas and the New Year - writes Fredrick Nzwili for Ecumenical News International.

"This is a problem facing vulnerable children in Kenya," said the Rev. Maloba Wesonga, the administrative secretary for the Roman Catholic Church in Nairobi. "We urge all organs of government to be more vigilant. This is a not a problem at the coast only, but in the whole country."

UNICEF released a report indicating that 30 per cent of girls, a total of 15 000 of them, aged from 12 to 18 in four districts at the Kenyan coast engaged in casual sex for cash. The report noted further that two to three thousand girls and boys were involved in full-time sex for cash, some of them being made to engage in "most horrific and abnormal" acts.

"We are not pleased by this," Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa told Ecumenical News International on 19 December. "We know some kind of molestation involving young girls and boys has been happening on the beaches. But we did not know how serious it is."

The report, titled 'The Extent and Effect of Sex Tourism and Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Kenyan Coast', which was commissioned by UNICEF and the Kenyan government, was launched by Vice President Moody Awori.

"It is hard to admit that these facts are real in the face of the public, but the truth must be told if we have to save our children," Awori said. "All people must know that sexual exploitation of children is a crime. The law applies to everyone including tourists."

Heimo Laakkonen, UNICEF's representative in Kenya said that while sexual exploitation of children was sustained by tourism, it was shocking that Kenyans were the top abusers. Tourists from Italy, Germany and Switzerland topped the list of foreign abusers of Kenyan children, with every nationality being listed in the report.

"We face a monumental problem, but there is hope," said Laakkonen. "We must scale up programmes promoting responsible tourism."

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

Church leaders in Kenya have called for action following a report showing that sex tourism and sexual exploitation of children have reached an alarming proportion on the coast of the East African country where thousands of foreigners and local tourists celebrate Christmas and the New Year - writes Fredrick Nzwili for Ecumenical News International.

"This is a problem facing vulnerable children in Kenya," said the Rev. Maloba Wesonga, the administrative secretary for the Roman Catholic Church in Nairobi. "We urge all organs of government to be more vigilant. This is a not a problem at the coast only, but in the whole country."

UNICEF released a report indicating that 30 per cent of girls, a total of 15 000 of them, aged from 12 to 18 in four districts at the Kenyan coast engaged in casual sex for cash. The report noted further that two to three thousand girls and boys were involved in full-time sex for cash, some of them being made to engage in "most horrific and abnormal" acts.

"We are not pleased by this," Anglican Bishop Julius Kalu of Mombasa told Ecumenical News International on 19 December. "We know some kind of molestation involving young girls and boys has been happening on the beaches. But we did not know how serious it is."

The report, titled 'The Extent and Effect of Sex Tourism and Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Kenyan Coast', which was commissioned by UNICEF and the Kenyan government, was launched by Vice President Moody Awori.

"It is hard to admit that these facts are real in the face of the public, but the truth must be told if we have to save our children," Awori said. "All people must know that sexual exploitation of children is a crime. The law applies to everyone including tourists."

Heimo Laakkonen, UNICEF's representative in Kenya said that while sexual exploitation of children was sustained by tourism, it was shocking that Kenyans were the top abusers. Tourists from Italy, Germany and Switzerland topped the list of foreign abusers of Kenyan children, with every nationality being listed in the report.

"We face a monumental problem, but there is hope," said Laakkonen. "We must scale up programmes promoting responsible tourism."

[With grateful acknowledgements to ENI. Ecumenical News International is jointly sponsored by the World Council of Churches, the Lutheran World Federation, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, and the Conference of European Churches]

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 England & Wales License. Although the views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the views of Ekklesia, the article may reflect Ekklesia's values. If you use Ekklesia's news briefings please consider making a donation to sponsor Ekklesia's work here.