Amanda and Agatha are holidaying in Kenya for the first time. Each of them walked along the Indian Ocean Coast, hand in hand, with powerfully built 20-somethings. One of the Kenyan lads had a new sunglass on- a gift from his doting lover. Amanda is in her late fifties, while Agatha is sixty-four. Both these ladies happen to be best friends, hailing from the same obscure town in Southern England, where they are neighbors. Contrary to the ordinary tourists, they are not in Kenya merely to enjoy the palm-fringed beaches or to understand her people. They are there to indulge a fetish for a kind of 'wild life' that is more adventurous than the African Safari.
These English women have voyaged to Africa with the hope of rekindling their currently non-existent sex lives, by dating Black men who are less than half their age. They are the latest to enter the bandwagon of sex tourists visiting Kenya. And one must concede that the bandwagon is brimming!
The figures may not be accurate, but it is believed that on an average 1 out of every 5 woman touring Kenya is a sex tourist! What prompts these women to travel to Kenya in search of steamy passion? Surely, it cannot be the infamous English weather!
The explanation is simple. They travel all the way to the 'Dark Continent' to perform a deed that is dark enough to be frowned upon in their own small town. Besides, there are too many cashless dudes in Kenya who are willing to be 'sitting ducks' for these English matrons in exchange for hard cash, fleeting moments of flashy living and fun (if you have developed a taste for it!).
'Sexploiting' the starved is a much -discussed, pan-global phenomenon. A UNICEF study reveals that, in Kenya alone, there are fifteen thousand girls between the age of 12-18 bartering their bodies for money. Three thousand more girls and boys are full time sex workers, who are paid to do some of the most horrendous acts.
A precedent was set by older white males who, trod the forbidden path and, preyed indiscriminately upon young girls and boys. Not to be deprived of their moments of glory, the older women have followed suit. According to another study, many of these individuals are in favor of 'sheer' pleasure and go to great lengths to shun the condom.
There have been several instances of sex offenders seriously pursuing their interests in South Asian countries, such as India. These offenders, whose motto is 'catch them young', even go to the extent of building orphanages, only to use them as smoke screens for their nefarious activities!
The English women in Kenya were not offending the law but the officials in Kenya were not applauding the cash flow. They want to promote tourism but this is more than what they had bargained for. Besides giving bad publicity, sex tourism exponentially multiplies the risk of AIDS in a country already dealing with a prevalence of 7%.
There are communities within some African nations where promiscuity is part of the social fabric and is, therefore, not subject to moral policing. But behind this surreal scenario are tales of ignorance and poverty. Many of these people believe that cavorting around with rich foreigners is a one-way ticket to salvation. Another example of one man's poison being another's elixir.
There is already a lot of work being done world wide to end sexual exploitation, particularly in poverty- stricken areas. Stronger policies must be scripted and laws must be put in place to protect the young who are the targets. Third world countries should build solidarity to resist the return of 'bawdy', exploitative colonialism. There is exploitation with in the boundaries of every nation but when the predators arrive from far -flung areas, the issue crosses several lines of jurisdiction and gets completely out of hand.
Nothing can be more shamefully outrageous than exploiting the vulnerable. Creating awareness by compulsory education is a definite way to minimize exploitation and also to instill a sense of pride in these young people who are the future citizens of the world.