Monday, 3 February 2014

Children sell sex in chang’aa dens



Police pour impounded drums of chang'aa. PHOTO|FILEPolice pour impounded drums of chang'aa.  Korogocho’s chang’aa dens are fuelling a child prostitution racket.
Whenever girls as young as 12-years-old are not working as waiters, they are selling their bodies to the patrons for as little as Sh50.
From the little money they get, they have to give their employers who double as their pimps a Sh10 fee. So rife is the exploitation that  brothels have been built to make maximum use of the childrens bodies.
Mututho rules limiting the operating hours of alcohol selling outlets do not apply in the dens. Drinking and prostitution goes on day and night.
When this writer visited the slum, he met 15-year Eunice (not her real name) outside one den who told him “Niko kazi,” (I am at work)- one of the many way they use to solicit for customers.
Eunice had a swollen ear after being beaten by man who wouldn’t pay the Sh50 they had agreed upon.
“We operate on cash before service basis.  I am sure people outside heard my screams, but nobody bothered,” she explained. She dropped out of school in Standard eight.
The cost of living was too much for her elder cousin, her guardian.  Her friend Christine (also not her name) said she was in the trade to get more pocket money.
“My parents don’t know if I am here. The advantage that we have compared to other girls is that we can use our bodies as assets if need be,” she said.
“I do not see the difference between me and a girl who asks money from her boyfriend because all of us are using our looks for our own benefit,” she added.
Thirteen-year-old Mirriam said the death of her parent who suffered from Aids forced her to turn to the brothels.
“Trust me, no girl would wish to come here if they had an alternate source of income. In Korogocho you have to make life or death decisions in order to survive,” she explained.
David Mulanzi, a social worker in the slum said because of their ‘attractiveness’, child prostitutes could be a major contributors to new HIV cases in the slums and blamed laxity in enforcing the law and poor parenting.
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