Pornography makers in Eastlands and informal settlements have found a new ‘promising’ labour market in underage school-going children, an issue that is raising concerns.
It is gradually emerging that school girls have now been turned into prostitutes and porn stars, while some city strip clubs have recruited underage girls to apparently draw more male customers.
The Kenya National Association of Parents (Knap) Secretary-General Musau Ndunda, told The Nairobian that they are concerned over information they are receiving that there are school girls doubling as sex workers, strippers and porn actors.
Ndunda recalls a case in which a primary school girl visited his office and admitted that her friends were attempting to lure her into what she suspected was acting for a pornographic film. The could however not trace the girl later, making it difficult for Knap to follow up on the matter.
“Visit these strip joints in the city and you will find that some strippers and prostitutes are underage girls who are still in school. There is a notorious one along Moi Avenue. They attend schools but in the evenings or weekends, they are in the streets or strip joints where pornography makers get them to perform in their productions,” said Ndunda.
Nairobi’s Eastlands and slums have become fertile grounds for exploiting young, desperate, poor and thus vulnerable girls. They are also enticed with free rides to and from school, money and sanitary pads.
“Not every girl you see in uniform is going or leaving school. Some are into pornography and sex work. They might not roam the streets, but they visit their clients,” a resident of Bahati told The Nairobian.
In Kibra slums, young girls are paid for live porn performances with older men in secret dens where only selected adults are allowed in at a fee. It is claimed that child pornography is quite popular and lucrative compared to adult ones, and this has attracted more locals and foreigners into the illegal business.
Pub, Entertainment and Restaurant Association of Kenya (Perak) Chief Executive Officer, Lilian Kalela Muhanji, said the claims are true. She was however quick to add that owners of such joints are not members of Perak.
The Bar Hostess Empowerment and Support Programme (BHESP) Executive Director Peninah Mwangi, told The Nairobian that cases of underage girls in the sex and stripping business cannot be ruled out.
“These are issues we have raised with the government, but no action has been taken. The government has to decriminalise and monitor sex work. Such kids are not members of BHESP and if they are assaulted out there, we have no way of assisting. The activities are clandestine in the first place and as such, we are not even in a position to be aware of their abuse,” explains Peninah.
Kayole South ward representative Elizabeth Manyala, who has been involved in research on child prostitution as well as formulation of policy on children matters, says some girls look more mature than their age. She says that lustful men, despite knowing the girls are underage, proceed to exploit them.
“Today’s young girl may appear mature physically, hence can easily engage in prostitution and stripping without arousing suspicions,” she explains.
Manyala says that in Nairobi, pornography is threatening to get out of hand and girls as young as 12 are watching blue movies. Some parents unfortunately have sex in the presence of their children, she says.
On June 10, 2014, she tabled a motion in the County Assembly to urge the Nairobi City County government to provide free sanitary towels for poor school girls. She believes that such initiatives will curtail child prostitution as well as prevent lecherous men from taking advantage of the girls. The motion is yet to be discussed.
A day earlier, schoolgirls from Kibra had petitioned Governor Evans Kidero to provide them with sanitary towels. The girls are gullible and anybody offering to assist them financially can easily manipulate them. Scolastica Muthoni, a psychologist, says such cases abound but are shrouded in secrecy because both parties are making money.
Some schools in Eastleigh and Parklands that were famed for good performance are now struggling because of such trends.
Kenya Primary Schools Head Teachers Association (KEPSHA) Chairman, Joseph Karuga, says some matatu operators have been luring girls from schools and exploit them sexually. This, he notes, is when the girls are likely introduced to pornography, prostitution and other vices.