Cablegate: Unicef Launches Shocking Study On Child Sex Tourism


DE RUEHNR #5304/01 3540659
P 200659Z DEC 06





E.O. 12958: N/A

Ref: NAIROBI 4070

1. Summary: On December 19, 2006, UNICEF and the Ministry of Home
Affairs launched their long-awaited joint research report on child
sex tourism (CST) in four of Kenya's main beach resorts. Surveys and
research indicate that up to 30% of all 12-18 year old girls living
in these areas are involved in casual sex work. Two to three
thousand girls and boys are involved in full-time, year-round
commercial sex in the coastal resorts, but up to 45% are from other
provinces. 38% of the children's clients were Kenyan, with Italian,
German and Swiss tourists accounting for another 44%. More than 75%
of surveyed locals either accepted CST as normal or actively
approved of it. Vice President and Minister of Home Affairs Awori
squarely accepted the research as real and factual, and acknowledged
the failure of police and communities to enforce Kenya's laws. The
VP called for wider participation in the ECPAT tourism industry Code
of Conduct to Protect Children from Sexual Exploitation and called
on originating countries to monitor websites marketing Kenya as a
CST destination. UNICEF and the GOK will continue to brief Coast
Province communities on the report, more CST research is being done
in Kenya's other major towns, and stakeholders will work to develop
policies and programs to change Kenyan attitudes and behavior to
protect Kenya's children. End summary.

Yes, CST on the Coast Is as Bad as Previewed
2. Horrific bits and pieces of UNICEF's 2005-06 research report on
child sex tourism (CST) have been leaking out of briefings into the
press for more than six months, prompting protests and disbelief.
The whole report was finally launched by UNICEF and the Ministry of
Home Affairs to a large media audience on December 19, and is as bad
as previewed. Lead researcher C. Sarah Jones described the
methodology of the research project, noting that it sought to map
and determine the extent of CST, and obtain qualitative data to
enable the GOK and stakeholders to develop more effective programs
and interventions. She summarized the findings detailed in the
executive summary cited in para 9. Although the report lists
Kenyans as representing 38% of the clients, presenters consistently
cited the figure as 41%, which the report lists as the "cumulative
percent." USA/American were only 1.3 cumulative percent of

UNICEF Director: Horror and Hope
3. UNICEF Kenya Director Heimo Laakonen opened by noting that the
report's details of child abuse and the failure of parents to
protect children ("atrocities") were too terrible to allow UNICEF's
usual practice of including children in the event. When UNICEF
commissioned the report in 2005, it did not anticipate these
findings. Although Italian, German and Swiss tourists were the
leading foreign clients, almost every nation in the world was
represented. Although the problem was monumental, Laakonen noted
that his experience in Costa Rica and the Dominican Republic showed
it is possible to reduce demand for and supply of child prostitutes.
Laakonen called for intensive sensitization for tourists, arrest,
trial and punishment in Kenya for perpetrators, support from tourist
origin countries, and a strong child protection campaign in Kenya.

4. Laakonen described how, as in other countries, the large hotels
and chains with a strong self-interest in clean tourism, were the
first to sign up and are fully supporting the ECPAT tourism industry
Code of Conduct. He hoped the owners of the numerous, unregistered
guest houses and private villas, plus bars and other establishments
would follow suit.

VP Awori Accepts Results and Calls for Action
5. Vice President and Minister of Home Affairs Awori squarely
accepted the research as a real and factual description of a growing
problem that must be publicly confronted. While unemployment,
poverty and HIV/AIDS make children vulnerable, the terrible
situation showed the deterioration of Kenyan morals and traditional
African family values. While tourism poses risks to children, the
high proportion of Kenyan clients and widespread acceptance of CST
showed the lack of support and protection for children in Kenyan
society. ("We must condemn ourselves. Let us Kenyans change.")
Awori acknowledged the failure of police and communities to enforce
Kenya's laws, and to sometimes treat exploited children as criminals
rather than victims. In a clear call to end impunity for tourists,
the VP urged police and communities to implement the Children's Act
and other laws consistently, and not to protect child exploiters.

6. VP Awori urged wider hospitality industry participation in the
ECPAT tourism industry Code of Conduct to Protect Children from
Sexual Exploitation. Unfortunately, the VP misquoted the number of
hotels signed up to the Code as 300 when it is closer to 30, but he
did admit that a majority of guest houses, lodgings, bars and clubs
had not yet joined. The VP called on originating countries to share
any reports they receive of their citizens engaging in CST in Kenya,
and to monitor websites and other campaigns marketing Kenya as a CST
destination. Awori dedicated the GOK to combating CST, and welcomed
UNICEF's support in developing long-term strategies for child
protection and social/behavioral changes. Awori regretted that
Parliament was in recess and no MPs were present. He urged the
attending media to widely publicize the report and help prevent the
spread of child prostitution in Kenya.

Next Steps
7. Awori stated the GOK was reviewing the Children's Act and
considering making the penalties much more severe. He said the GOK
would expand a Social Safety Net Cash Transfer Pilot Scheme to help
vulnerable families avoid sending their children to work. He said
that Kenyan Immigration would require all visitors to provide their
home address (and Kenyan destinations?), implying this would deter
CST or help authorities track pedophiles. Laakonen announced that
the relevant Parliamentary Committee has already invited UNICEF to
present its findings. Children Department Director Hussein and
Laakonen said the research team previously briefed participants and
stakeholders in the four resort areas, and they would share the
information widely with the population of Coast Province. UNICEF
and the Home Ministry's Children's Department plan events
specifically aimed at youth. CST research projects are underway in
other Kenyan cities and will expand the knowledge base. Laakonen
predicted they will find CST common in other cities, relying mainly
on Kenyan clients.

8. Although leaks had already previewed the report's key findings,
they provoked some denial, blame of foreign tourists, and
questioning whether to maintain the tourism industry. We hope the
detailed explanation of the thorough research procedures behind the
shameful statistics, plus the VP's forthright acceptance of Kenya's
share of responsibility, will restrict those reactions. Embassy
will continue to work closely with GOK agencies, police,
international organizations, NGOs, and the tourism-hospitality
industry and advocate expanded participation in the Code of Conduct
and more effective implementation of Kenya's laws.

9. Extent and Effect of Sex Tourism and Sexual Exploitation of
Children on the Kenyan Coast: Executive Summary
--------------------------------------------- ---------
The commercial sexual exploitation of children in coastal areas
exposed in this report is shocking violation of their rights, and a
reflection of the profound risk potentially faced by all children in
Kenya. Some ten to fifteen thousand girls living in coastal areas
of Malindi, Mombasa, Kalifi and Diani are involved in casual sex
work - up to 30% of all 12-18 year olds living in these areas. A
further two to three thousand girls and boys are involved in
full-time year round commercial activity. Many full-time child sex
workers have migrated to the coast from other parts of the country,
and have often been inaugurated into sex work before they arrive.
The sexual exploitation of children is not limited to coastal areas
or to tourists, but can be found in communities across Kenya. About
one in ten children involved in sex work are initiated before they
reach puberty.

The level and acceptance of sexual exploitation of children in
coastal areas puts all children in Kenya at risk. It reflects a
fundamental breakdown and corruption of families and communities,
and a failure of the authorities to provide protection to children
and to prosecute those responsible for promoting and profiting from
child sex work. Tourists that exploit children are at the centre of
a ring of corruption that involves many from the local community.
Child sex workers are often compelled to deliver sexual services to
Kenyans - beach boys, bar staff, waiters, and others - in order to
access tourists. During the low tourist season, the local market
for child sex workers keeps the system going.

The sexual exploitation of children therefore thrives because of the
complicity of a broad section of the local community. While some
children are driven into transactional sex because of poverty, the
high level of acceptance of child sex work in coastal communities
makes it relatively easy for children to drift into casual sex in
exchange for no more than extra pocket money. Many younger girls
reported that they begin in local bars to gain experience and money
to allow them to buy clothes, accessories and hairstyles that will
enable access to the tourist market.

Overall, 38% of the clients of child sex workers consulted for the
survey were Kenyan. Tourists exploiting children for sex came from
many countries, with the most common offenders coming from Italy
(18%), Germany (14%) and Switzerland (12%).

Coastal communities are among the poorest in Kenya. The lucrative
tourism industry has failed to deliver significant benefits and
employment for host communities, and this has exacerbated and
increased the vulnerability of children to sexual exploitation.

Child sex workers are not criminals. They are the victims of sexual
exploitation. It is vital that the adult perpetrators and not the
victims themselves are prosecuted for these crimes. At the same
time, it must be recognized that the use of raids or the exclusion
of children from certain public areas as the central plank of a
reduction program risks driving the activity underground, leading to
greater marginalisation, increased risk of exploitation and even
less protection.

The Kenyan government, civil society, the tourist industry, the
broader private sector must urgently come together to prevent and
end the sexual exploitation of children. The countries whose
nationals are exploiting Kenyan children also have a key role to
play in preventing these heinous crimes.

The study presents the following key findings:

- 1. Magnitude

The study identified two distinct groups of children engaged in sex
work: those who work as informal sex workers on a casual and ad hoc
basis and those who engage in sex work as a full-time income
generating activity.

Children involved in sex work and sex tourism are not a homogeneous
group. As many as 45% of children engaged in sex work with tourists
are from outside coast province with large numbers coming from
Eastern, Central and Western provinces.

Sex workers include children whose basic needs cannot be met by
family for reasons of unemployment, under-employment and loss of one
or both parents. However, over 50% of child sex workers have
parents in employment and are still attending school in the resort
areas but would like to earn additional pocket money. However, as
they operate within their own home communities they are usually
discreet and careful not to be seen by older members of their

The population of children between 12 and 18 years of age in the
districts under study, from education and KDHS survey data, is
estimated to be approximately 100 -120,000 of which 60-65,000 are
girls. Of that number, it is estimated that 40 - 50,000 live in and
around the resort areas. From the various sources of data and
triangulation, a conservative assessment of the involvement of girls
in sex work and sex tourism is between 25% - 30%. In numerical
terms that represents a figure of 10,000-15,000. However, the
number of children engaging in sex tourism as a full-time year round
commercial activity is much lower at a figure of 2,000 - 3,000.

- 2. Vulnerability of children involved in Child Sex Tourism (CST)

More than half the girls engaged in full-time commercial sex work
are living apart from family, parents and guardians.

Of that group, the majority are living in communities of sex workers
and sharing the rental of rooms between 4-6 girls.

Of child sex workers from resort areas, 40% had lost one or both

Widespread acceptance and approval of the practice of CST
(Key informants were drawn mostly from the tourism industry
(hair/massage salon keepers, curio sellers, waiters, bar staff,
beach boys etc.) but also including government staff, members of
NGOs, parents, students, community leaders, and representatives of
faith based organizations.)

More than 75% of key informants either accepted the practice of CST
as normal and tolerable or actively approved of it. Only 20% saw
the behavior as immoral. Approval of the practice was associated
with it bringing wealth and advantage to individual girls and their
families and generating income that would benefit various sectors of
the community.

59% of key informants thought boys' involvement in sex tourism as
beach boys, procurers and middlemen or engaging in sex work with
tourists was acceptable.

- 3. Early initiation into transactional sex

All data sources indicated that more than 45% of girls involved in
prostitution and child sex tourism began transactional sex for cash
or for goods and favors between the ages of 12 and 13 years.
More than 10% of girls begin transactional sex below 12 years of

- 4. Child sex tourism is intricately and closely linked to child

39% of the clients of child sex workers in the study were Kenyan

Child sex workers provide sexual services to Kenyan hotel workers
and beach boys in order to gain access to tourists.

The existence of a local demand for child sex workers sustains the
sex tourist market during low seasons or tourist market

- 5. Economics of child sex tourism

Child sex tourism is highly lucrative and drives the informal and
the commercial sex trade. The disparity between a family's capacity
to generate goods and income and what can be earned in sex work
feeds the domestic culture which encourages children to seek out

Average prices paid by tourists in each age category:
Below age 12 - 1,000 -2000KSH
Ages 12-16 - 1,000 -2000KSH
Ages 16-18 - 2000 - 5,000KSH

Price paid for anal intercourse ranges between 5,000 - 10,000KSH

The daily rate of casual labor for a child is between 80 -120 KSh
and for an adult 300-500 KSh

- 6. Clients and risk behavior

In the study sites, Italians, Germans and Swiss men rank as the top
three clients of under-age female sex workers at 18%, 14% and 12%
respectively. These three nationalities were significantly more
active with under age girls than other nationalities. Ugandans and
Tanzanians ranked fifth and sixth in the client group. British and
Saudi Arabian men ranked seventh and eighth.

Anal sex represented 12% of all sex acts but 30% of all sex acts
with Italian men.

No condom was used during 32% of all penetrative sex acts and 42% of
all acts of anal sex.

Kenyans, Italians and Germans ranked as having the lowest condom

The Kenyan government, civil society, the tourist industry and
communities themselves must recognize that child prostitution is a
widespread in Kenya. Swift, effective action backed by financial
and human resources is urgently needed to ensure the protection of
children and prosecution of adult perpetrators. Combating child sex
tourism requires commitment of the community and overt condemnation
and disapproval of the behavior itself and not merely of the actors

There must be a major shift in thinking and values away from
punishing the child and his or her family and instead holding the
people who engage in transactional sex with minors as accountable
and responsible. This needs to be the starting point for developing
a plan of action and for all communication campaigns.

Because of the large number of children coming to the coast from
other parts of the country to engage in sex work with tourists,
Child Sex Tourism needs to be understood as a national and not just
a local problem confined to the Coast province.

Legal instruments must be reviewed to ensure third parties to the
sexual exploitation of minors can be held responsible and
accountable and the courts be given the power to enact costly
penalties e.g. closing establishments, increased monitoring of
long-term foreign tourists etc.

The active involvement and commitment from Treasury, Ministry of
Tourism, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Home Affairs, and Ministry
of Foreign Affairs and the Ministries of Education and Health are
required for any reduction measures to carry weight and be
sustainable. Particular efforts need to be addressed to training and
accountability of police officers.

The Government and its partners need to consider how and in what
ways poverty reduction programs can be stepped up in the areas which
surround the key tourist strips, e.g.: target children and youth,
creation of vocational training opportunities, greater role for
youth in economic planning, increase availability of secondary
school places, shifting training institutions such as Utalii and
certain Government of Kenya offices from Nairobi to Coast Province,
long-term funded school feeding programs, etc.

The Government should play a more active role in the global tourism
arena including participating in global conferences on child sex
tourism and paedophilia reviewing policies and strategic plans for
tourism in Kenya to encourage the kinds of tourists and tourism that
respects and supports local customs and values, and marketing Kenya
to that specific market


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