Where underage girls engage in illicit sex to fend for their families

Thursday, July 2nd, 2020 00:00 |
Pregnant mother. Photo/Courtesy

It is 10am at Kisumu’s main bus park. Hundreds of residents are engaged in routine economic activities to eke out a living.

The deadly coronavirus pandemic has rendered majority in the lakeside city jobless.

Consequently, residents have developed new revenue streams to fend for their families. 

Covid-19 pandemic has been so lethal such that even underage girls have been forced to engage in prostitution to provide for their struggling families. 

The economic hardship caused by the pandemic has also forced commercial sex workers to engage in the illicit trade during the day to beat the curfew restrictions

Just less than 200 metres away from the main Bus Park at Fanana area, a group of skimpily dressed underage girls have lined-up to wait for clients. 

This place has become synonymous with prostitution despite being less than two metres away from the official residence of regular police officers and 300m away from the Bus Park Police Station. 

We meet 17-year-old Emily Ochieng (not her real name) negotiating with her third client in broad daylight.

Another client 

 Emily, a Form Four leaver, reveals that she was introduced to the illegal business by her friend a month ago after her mother who was working in a local hotel was laid off following the Government’s order to close restaurants.

We caught up with her negotiating with an elderly  man,  who , fled when he realised that a strange vehicle had parked next to him.

Emily took her spot again with the hope of luring another client. After nearly an  hour of observing how the sex workers operate, we revealed our identity. 

This gives Emily confidence, she agrees to an interview on condition that we don’t expose her. “

I decided to engage in this for the sake of my family. Ever since the Covid-19 pandemic started, we have had problems. My mother who was the family’s sole breadwinner was sacked.

We would often sleep hungry. I have two younger brothers who are still in school. Life is just difficult for us,” she reveals.

New infections  

Emily says she charges between Sh100 to Sh500 and pockets at least Sh1,000 daily. She says; “The clients are so many here.

My friends and I have rented rooms that we cost share at the end of the day.” 

Kondele is also notorious for underage commercials sex workers who engage in the trade during the day. The sex workers line up outside guest houses that they cost share to pay at the end of the day.

According to the latest statistics from the National Aids Control Council, the prevalence rate of HIV in the region is over 17 per cent.

Eunice Kinyua, the county HIV/Aids and STI coordinator, confirmed that there has been an increase in new infections among the youth aged between 15- 24 years but clarified that the data is being compiled.

Kinyua said; “We are aware of the illicit sexual activities involving the young girls.

We have already engaged them and formulated a raft of  measures, among them biomedical and community interventions where we try to establish their challenges  and see how they can be helped.”

Kisumu East District Commissioner John Cheruiyot when contacted for comment said, “We are not aware of that and I can assure you we will probe this matter and act as per the law as soon as we complete  our investigations”.

When contacted, County Commander of Police Ramson Loldom said he could not comment on the matter since it is under probe.

More on National