Coast province is leading in child prostitution, research findings have shown.
According to the National Council for Children’s Services, it is estimated that between 10,000 and 15,000 girls living at the Coast are involved in commercial sex work.
Child prostitution in the area is closely linked to the lucrative, and illegal, child-sex tourism.
The council’s report says that most of the clients served by this industry, other than Kenyans, are Italians, Germans and Swiss.
Diani, Mombasa, Kilifi and Malindi beaches were noted as the major centres of sex tourism at the Coast.
Other urban areas, such as Nairobi and Kisumu, are also said to have high child commercial sexual activity, with poverty being the major contributing factor.
The council’s report says that more than 30 per cent of all 12 to 18 year olds are involved in full-time commercial sex work.
For many people in the local community, the research findings say, having a daughter or a son in a relationship with a tourist, especially a foreigner, is seen as a source of wealth and status symbol.
An earlier report by the UN said that local communities’ tolerance of prostitution involving children was helping entrench the practice in the area.
According to Unicef’s 2006 “Report on the Extent and Effect of Sex Tourism and Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Kenyan Coast”, family members, bar owners and their managers were the major beneficiaries of the trade.
The National Council for Children’s Services report was presented to Gender, Children and Social Development minister Esther Murugi by Kenyatta University lecturer Barbara Koech on Wednesday.