First webcam sex den revealed in Kenya

Kenyan police officers have raided a house turned into a digital brothel in capital Nairobi. In the house, situated in a lower middle class neighbourhood, more than five girls were engaging in live webcam sex shows with men from around the world, even though the girls all insisted they were just chatting with them. The news confirms Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ conviction that online webcam sex is an increasing trend which is also prevalent outside The Philippines, where it was first encountered.

Sexual exploitation

Promise of a housekeeping job

Happy (19 years old) came to the house where she was promised a housekeeping job with the married couple who lives there. Once inside, it turned out the couple runs a digital brothel, with at least five girls working for them.  Instead of housekeeping tasks, in reality the girls were livestreamed while having to strip and perform sexual acts in front of a camera, for the benefit of online viewers abroad. Despite hefty weekly subscription fees for the viewers, the girls involved only earned small money, between 10,000 and 15,000 Kenyan shilling per month (€ 90 - € 135 per month). In comparison: the legal minimum wage for a housekeeper in Nairobi is 10,955 Kenyan shilling per month  (€ 98 per month).

No way out

There was no way out - the girls were not allowed to leave the premises. Happy did the sex work for four months, until she was partnered with another girl. Her female boss demanded the pair to perform some far-reaching sexual act, which Happy refused. This led her female boss threatening Happy to ¨finish her”. Happy grabbed the opportunity to cause real disturbance, so that she could flee and inform the police.

When white men see that there is a child involved they pay a lot. A lot of money.

Young children

As a witness, Happy narrates that the couple’s young children, two girls aged 3 and 9 years, occasionally were also involved in webcam sex, with the consent of their parents. According to Happy: “When white men see that there is a child involved they pay a lot. A lot of money.”

Online webcam sex with children

In 2013, Terre des Hommes Netherlands unveiled Sweetie, a virtual 10-year-old Filipina girl with the very distinct task of identifying predators of online webcam sex with children around the globe. Over the years, the ‘Sweetie’ work has evolved into developing an automated system that monitors the internet public spaces worldwide through deployment of so-called chatbots, to recognise and deter millions of (potential) offenders of webcam sex with children.

‘Sweetie’ does exist in Kenya

Even though the 2013 Sweetie research concentrated on The Philippines, Terre des Hommes Netherlands has been convinced from the beginning that The Philippines is just a tip of the iceberg and children worldwide are at the risk of becoming victims of webcam sex, specifically children in developing countries with emerging economies. Kenya, which recently became a middle income country, is just one example. The news of the Nairobi raid proofs that online webcam sex with children is not limited to The Philippines only.

The owners and inhabitants of the house have all been arrested and are awaiting prosecution.

Terre des Hommes Netherlands has alerted relevant organisations within its Kenyan child protection network to reach out to Happy and give her the necessary psychosocial support.

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