In the media: fighting sexual exploitation at the Kenyan coast

Poverty remains the major push factor for children to engage in child sexual exploitation at the Kenyan coast. In Kwale County, situated on the South Coast, 74% of the population is living below the poverty line. Children between 10 and 18 years old are most affected, according to experts from the recently started Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ project tackling Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) at the Coast, which was highlighted on Citizen TV. Already 16 children have been identified and supported through the project, to withdraw and/or prevent them from engaging in CSEC.

Sexual exploitation

According to the experts from Terre des Hommes Netherlands’ partner Kesho Kenya, CSEC comes in different forms, all of which are existing and growing in Kwale County: transactional sex, child prostitution, online child sexual exploitation and child sex tourism.

Life was hard, I did not have food, sometimes I missed school because of lack of school fees. So I got into commercial sex, became pregnant and I have a child who is now at home.

(Riziki, from Kwale County)


Major hotspots & media coverage

The places where CSEC typically takes place in Kwale County include the beaches, massage parlours, traditional drinking dens, private along the roads and along the transit highways. Apart from these hotspots, children are also involved in CSEC in less visible places, in the villages.

Citizen TV, one of Kenya’s leading national TV stations, is broadcasting a series of items under the header Mimba za mapena (Early pregnancies) in a bid to unpack the increased teenage pregnancies in Kwale County. As part of this series, beneficiary Riziki and experts from our partner Kesho Kenya have been interviewed.

Holistic approach

Focus in the media coverage was on the holistic approach of the project, to withdraw and/or protect children from CSEC. Child victims and children at high risk receive educational support, psychosocial help, legal aid and if needed alternative care. The wider community and specifically parents or guardians are targeted for awareness, and with income generating activities so that the money children make in CSEC can be replaced with alternative livelihoods.

I have stopped with commercial sex. I am ready to join secondary school in Form One. I want to tell other children who are in commercial sex not to give up, they should not give up because they have children. They should hang on and their lives will be better.


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