Beach Kenyan Coast

Jomo Kenyatta Public Beach in Mombasa.

| File | Nation Media Group

Minors exploited in Coast sex tourism haven

As you walk on the white sandy beaches of the Indian Ocean at the Kenyan Coast, ageing Westerners -- both men and women -- can be seen walking, clasping hands with local men and women.

Such scenes are very common in Mtwapa, Diani and Malindi.

Some of the foreigners come briefly to enjoy the warm waters of the Indian Ocean, while others are retirees who choose to spend the rest of their lives here, many pairing up with the locals.

The Kenyan Coast has a reputation as a haven for sex tourism, with many young men and women pursuing the foreigners for money.

However, a closer look reveals that most of the locals are young enough to be the foreigners’ grandchildren, and are, in fact, underage. Some engage in the ‘trade’ with the full knowledge, and encouragement of their parents and guardians.

Criminal offence

Poverty has been blamed for the trend. However, it is a criminal offence to engage in sexual relations with a person below the age of 18.

And while many of the foreigners have got away with this crime, others have been caught and charged in court, with some ending up in jail.

In the most recent case, two Israelis were arrested as they hosted two girls in an apartment in Bamburi, Mombasa.

Mr Ashush David and Mr Koren Avraham were found with girls aged 14 and 15 at Indiana Apartment Ltd Cottage in Bamburi.

Investigations conducted by Anti-Human Trafficking officer Millicent Ouko indicate that the girls were recruited at Copa Cabana Beach, North Coast, before being taken to the apartment.

Lured with money, phones

The foreigners are alleged to have met the girls at the beach before they lured them with money and phones.

Mr David and Mr Avraham have been charged before the Shanzu Court with trafficking in the two minors and engaging in child prostitution. The court heard that the men lured the girls with Sh14,000 and two expensive phones, before locking them up in the apartment.

Documents filed by the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions in court indicate that the men took advantage of the minors’ economic misfortunes to procure them for sexual assault.

The mother of one of the girls has also been charged with child neglect and benefiting from child prostitution. She is accused of wilfully and knowingly permitting her child to remain in the apartment, despite knowing that she was being sexually abused by the foreigners. She is further accused of failing to provide proper parental care, causing her 14-year-old child aged to be sexually abused.

The three are alleged to have committed the offences between June 20 and June 25.

‘Victims of exploitation’

The foreigners, through their advocate Joseph Kanyi, lamented that they are victims of exploitation, which is rampant in Mtwapa township.

The suspects were on a tourist visa and arrived in Kenya on June 19.

The Nation has learnt that the foreigners returned to Europe after securing a Sh200,000 cash bail for treatment. They were expected to appear in court three weeks ago for the hearing of the case but they did not show up.

In 2019, a German and Ukrainian were charged in court with stripping naked a Kenyan woman and taking videos of her against her will.

Mr Zerbin Sascha Marius Waldermar (German) and Mr Wectabe Shestavetskyi (Ukrainian) were accused of intentionally and unlawfully compelling YMN by forcibly undressing her and taking videos of her nude. The assault happened at an apartment in Mtwapa, Kilifi County. Investigations into the offence indicated that the woman met Mr Marius on online dating site Tinder, where they exchanged contacts and planned to meet.

The two met in Mtwapa, and proceeded to the apartment where the man was living. They spent the day together at the apartment swimming pool.

“We spent the whole day swimming. Late in the evening, we proceeded to the apartment, and they brought alcoholic drinks and food. We ate and enjoyed drinks together,” she said in her report to the police.

Demanded sex

But when she wanted to leave, the foreigners did not allow her, and demanded sex. They then undressed her and threw her clothes outside the apartment. And as Mr Marius held her down, Mr Shestavetskyi took videos and photos of her.

The court released the two men on a Sh100,000 cash bail.

In January last year, 75-year-old Italian Pancino Renato was arrested and charged in court with defiling a primary school girl.

The charge sheet says the suspect defiled the minor at his apartment in Mtwapa on January 6, when she went to collect school admission fee she had been promised.

The minor told the police that she became unconscious after taking a glass of yoghurt and upon regaining consciousness, she discovered that she had been sexually assaulted.

In court, police said that they were still investigating Mr Renato, who has been in the country since 2005, over similar other offences.

Child defilement

Mr Renato, who denied two counts of child defilement and committing an indecent act with a minor, is out on a Sh500,000 bond.

In 2018, British pensioner Keith Morris, 72, of New Bridge Road, Hull, was convicted and jailed for 18 years and six months by a British court after he was found guilty of sexually assaulting eight children in Kilifi County.  

Morris defiled the eight girls from poor families after giving their parents money between 2010 and 2016. According to court documents in UK and Kilifi, Morris’ oldest victim was 12.

The Leeds Crown Court also heard during the trial that Morris had tried to bribe the children and those who knew of his dirty dealings to buy their silence. He was also in the process of securing legal custody of the minors at the time of his arrest in 2017.

Convicted

Morris was convicted of four counts of rape and sexual assault, and two counts of perverting the course of justice.

In 2014, Belgian Allain Robert Perniaux, was sentenced to 20 years in prison for defiling a 12-year-old girl. The Belgian is said to have paid the minor’s mother, who was sentenced to three years in jail for her part in the crime.

Robert, a fugitive from Belgian and French authorities, died while pursuing an appeal.

In the case of Turkish tycoon Osman Elsek, who is facing child sexual offence charges, his trial was ordered to start afresh due to unfair prosecution, which could have occasioned him an injustice.

Most witnesses in the case have been declared hostile after they recanted their testimonies, dealing a blow to the state’s case.

Child sex tourism, however, continues to thrive at the Coast, and the government has failed to tame the vice, despite enacting at least 14 laws and signing various international conventions to protect children’s rights.

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