Sexual exploitation of children in Kenyan tourism on the rise

Sexual exploitation of children in the travel and tourism industry in Kenya is on the rise, according to a recent study by ANPPCAN Regional Office in Kenya, partner of Terre des Hommes Netherlands. Almost one third (32%) of the children interviewed have stated that they are victims of sexual exploitation.


Sexual exploitation

For the research, 60 children and 161 adults have been interviewed. Within Kenya, the study focused on major tourist destinations and travellers’ hotspots, the coast and urban centres such as capital Nairobi and the cities of Mombasa, Kisumu and Nakuru.

Vulnerable children

The children interview consisted of sexual exploitation victims, as well as children who are highly vulnerable to becoming victims. Orphans, children heading households and children from single parents are the most vulnerable, especially when they are girls. The main factors influencing their vulnerability are household poverty, low level of education and early exposure to sexual acts via video halls and as a result of living in single roomed houses.

Key informants

The adults who participated in the study, are either directly involved in the tourism industry or work for the government in various tourism and child protection related capacities. Prominent community and opinion leaders were also interviewed. In addition, key informants were found amongst organisations who give direct support to victims of child sexual exploitation.

Typical offenders

Typical offenders were identified as mainly originating from the USA, UK, Italy, Germany, Canada, Korea and China. African nations included South Africa, Nigeria and all the Eastern African countries namely Ethiopia, Somalia, Uganda, Tanzania, including Kenya. Contrary to common belief, the perpetrators do not only come from the so-called developed nations. Local Kenyans, especially from affluent neighbourhoods, are also involved in sexual exploitation, targeting children in neighbouring low-income or slum areas by luring them with gifts. In addition, many children in slum areas surrounding major construction sites such as highway development projects where foreigners work, fall victim to sexual exploitation.

The research

As part of a global study in fourteen countries, ANPPCAN Regional Office together with ECPAT carried out research on the sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism in Kenya. Terre des Hommes Netherlands has been partnering with ANPPCAN Kenya to address the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Kwale county on the Kenyan south coast. The coastal village of Diani in Kwale is the major beach destination of Kenya, attracting visitors from all over the world.




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