Minors visit the beach in search of white men who can pay them for sex. PHOTO: OMONDI ONYANGO/STANDARD

That a mother would strike such a horrible bargain and allow the abuse to be videotaped continues to make this one of the most outrageous cases ever documented. Authorities found the videos and still images of the abuse when Weber returned to the United Sates. Weber was arrested and later convicted with one of the longest sentences passed under American legislation for the sexual abuse of children — 25 years in prison.

Weber had a prior conviction as a child sex offender and should never have been allowed into the country. But with lax rules on immigration he was not only welcome, but ingratiated himself to the local community.
Many other sex offenders like Weber flock to Kenyan holiday spots with the same thing in mind. Sex offenders convicted of abusing children abroad often face relatively short travel bans in their home countries. The United Kingdom, which boasts the toughest travel restrictions, prevents travel for only between six months and five years. Easily corrupted immigration officials at Kenya border points are also known to routinely allow in prohibited and undesirable immigrants.

Child sex tourism at the Coast is a highly secretive, well-oiled and dynamic undertaking that has proved almost impossible for the authorities to crack.

As an illegal tourism trend, the forces behind it leave nothing to chance in ensuring the industry thrives. But The Standard On Sunday can now reveal some of the methods adopted to keep the trade off the public eye and ensure culprits enjoy perennial impunity.

When we visited a beach along the vast Indian Ocean coastline in Diani, beach boys were conspicuous as they engage in various tourist-related activities. Most are seemingly in their teens and characteristically have dreadlocks, pierced ears, a rucksack and shorts.

At face value, their activities would raise little suspicion yet we learn this is the very group at the heart of child sex tourism.

Our efforts to have several of them share with us details of their underworld dealings bear no fruits. We are later informed they have been advised to observe strict caution, particularly when sharing details with strangers.

But one of the boys eventually opens up after we convince him we have a group of tourists interested in underage girls. Juma Mzingo, popularly known as Jay by his peers, reveals most of his colleagues are primary school dropouts, who now eke a living out of tourism. He tells us that to join the group as a beach boy, one must be a recognised local and is usually assigned a role by the team leader.

“One can be assigned to engage in camel rides, boat rides, tour guiding, and curio sales or purely as a pimp. Outsiders are very unwelcome and can easily be tossed into the ocean if they try operating here,” he says.

Jay, who specialises in boat rides and pimping, cheekily laughs off when we inquire about the involvement of tourists in sex with underage girls.

“This is very simple. Tourists come from the resorts to the beach everyday seeking young boys and girls. Some are usually very specific and insist on young people from the Digo and Maasai communities and they get what they want,” he says.

The 22-year-old, who speaks fluent German and some Italian, reveals that when it comes to underage girls, they source them depending on the amount of money tourists are willing to pay.

“If they are not paying much money, we just get young prostitutes who have been in this business for a while. But if they promise to pay much or even marry the girl and take her abroad, we usually get young girls from our own families or clans because we will benefit in the process. The parents never resist because they know they stand to benefit financially,” he says.

Jay, who has been a pimp since he was 14, reveals that a beach boy can receive a commission of between Sh500 and Sh20,000 from tourists for each girl secured. They also get a commission from every girl hooked up with a tourist.

“When female tourists ask for young boys, we never go for any since we can entertain them ourselves. If they need a Maasai boy, we just don Maasai regalia to deceive them,” he says amid a wide grin.

Jay says that sexual activities with minors can take place anywhere provided there are no ‘outsiders’ nearby. “Some tourists just have sex on the beach, while others do it in the villas. Most of the workers in the resorts around here know the beach boys by name and they sometimes send guards with a list of exactly what their clients want. We get the girls and take them to the villas immediately,” he says.

But he notes that there are those tourists who do not like taking chances and thus prefer sleeping with the girls in the deep sea.

“We normally charge them Sh1,000 for the boat ride and take them to the deep sea, where they have sex on the speed boats. Others prefer to be taken to Robinson Island while some do it on coral reefs deep in the ocean where no one can spot them,” he adds.

Alarmingly, the beach boy implicates the Tourist Police Unit (TPU) in the saga, saying they understand the scenario but never act since they are part of the syndicate.

“Wale ni watu wetu, twala pamoja (Those are our people, we eat together). The police usually make their patrol trips at around 9am but we never fear them,” he says. These claims are fiercely denied by a senior TPU officer who seeks anonymity.

Across the other side in Mtwapa, we meet Stacie, a 16-year-old from Naivasha. Scantily dressed and in high heels, she reveals she has grown in commercial sex trade, which she embraced after sleeping with a German tourist at age 10.

Apparently, Stacie’s father is a soldier while her mother is a teacher, and she is quick to note that she did not join the trade due to poverty but because of the pleasures that lie therein. “I came down here to visit my aunt in Shanzu and as I walked around with my cousin, we were approached by a woman who bought us a lot of wine before she introduced us to a foreign tourist who we slept with. I went back to Naivasha but later dropped out of school and ran away from home to enjoy life in Mombasa,” she says, puffing a cigarette.

Stacie says to successfully engage in sex trade in Mtwapa, one must be below 18 years since that is what most tourists, local and foreign, yearn for. The girl confides in us that to become a sex worker in this town, one must join one of the many groups under the patronage of a ‘mother superior’.

As she explains, this is a woman chosen by others to lead a group based on her age, experience and prowess in bed. As we learn, there are tens of mother superiors who are paid a commission by each girl under their patronage once she gets a client. The commission is based on the amount paid and nature of the intercourse. Stacie admits she is not sure how much the mother superiors earn directly from the clients in commissions.

“They usually drive us in tinted cars and take us to the villas or hotels where we undress and parade before the wazungus (whites), who choose who they want. Sometimes, they tell us to just swim naked as they take photos and videos before sleeping with us,” she says, noting most girls in her group are younger than her.

By Joe Kiarie, The Standard

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