Until recently, Turkana, in the north of Kenya, was one of the poorest parts of the country. Until they successfully drilled for oil there. The black gold led to an economic growth spurt. Men without families came from all over the country to Turkana, looking for a job. This resulted in a demand for cheap labour, such as domestic workers, and cheap sex. The story of Paula (14) shows the other side of the black gold.

Sexual exploitation / Child prostitution

‘We came from another part of Kenya to Lodwar when my father lost his job as a bartender. With the oil drilling happening now, he thought the jobs would be there for the taking for him, being a pure bred Turkana. But that turned out to be disappointing: he still is unemployed. My mother sometimes has work for one day, as a goatherd or as a stone cutter. Only my three brothers go to school. My eight sisters do not go to school at all, as we can't afford that.

I first went out to work as a domestic worker but since the age of thirteen I lived on the streets and slept with men in exchange for money.

Paula (14) from Kenya 

Two years ago I had to quit school; I was in grade six then. I first went out to work as a domestic worker but since the age of thirteen I lived on the streets and slept with men in exchange for money. I earned about 9 euros a night with that. That money went to my parents in order to buy food for the whole family. Fortunately, as of recently I temporarily live in a shelter with the support of Terre des Hommes. With the help of the intensive therapy I receive here, I can process my experiences and prepare myself for school life. My parents have received training enabling to make enough money for our family themselves. They also are taught by social workers how to better take care of my brothers and sisters. I will return to school soon. My dream is to become a nurse.

Reading and writing are not things you learn in a brothel; this is something children learn at school, in a safe environment. With proper education, shelter and therapy to process their prostitution past, we provide children such as Paula with a future worth looking forward to.

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*In order to protect victims of sexual exploitation, we do not show recognisable pictures of them. The girl in the picture is a victim, but is not portrayed in the article.

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