Introduction and objectives of the project: Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) is a global health concern. By 2017, more than one million children were victims of commercial sexual exploitation globally every year. CSEC is associated with adolescents HIV/AIDS and STIs infection, unintended pregnancies and abortions, school drop-out, harmful use of alcohol and drugs, and poor mental health outcomes including depression and anxiety. Poverty and low parental education are among the leading causes of CSEC. Interventions to identify CSEC, improve linkage to social support and change community attitudes towards CSEC are likely to improve adolescent and young people’s sexual and reproductive and mental health outcomes.
Strategies and activities: The International Centre for Reproductive Health Kenya (ICRHK) implemented an intervention project to identify children victims of CSEC in Kisauni and Changamwe Sub-counties in Mombasa, link them up to social and psychological support and educate the community to identify and report CSEC. The project used two approaches; school based and community based.
The community approach engaged out-of-school peer educators, community health volunteers and community leaders to sensitize out-of-school children and their parents on CSEC. The school-based approach identified and trained students and their teachers, and supported them to set-up life skills clubs to empower school-going children to identify and report CSEC.
The project worked with the Department of Children Services to set-up Area Advisory Committees at sub-county levels to coordinate CSEC prevention, identification and linkage to services. Children in CSEC received counselling and were linked to school or vocational training. To improve household incomes and reduce the risk of recurrent sexual exploitation, caregivers and Parents in the identified households were trained on business skills and linked to local microfinance institutions. We formed psychosocial support groups for children in CSEC.
- 1501 adolescents and teenagers were identified commercially sexually exploited. 1334 were identified through community health volunteers. The rest were identified through fellow children, local leaders, and teachers.
- All 1501 children received psychosocial counselling and were linked to support groups. Of the 1501, 66 were linked to an educational institution for vocational training and received skills on hair dressing, tailoring and motor vehicle mechanics and they are using these skills to earn a living.
- 4263 in-school children received education on CSEC between January and September 2019. We provided education through school sessions.
- 365 stakeholders were sensitized on CSEC prevention and response. Of the 1501 children, 942 received counseling sessions. The rest missed counseling because they were either in school, relocated and some expected to be given money. Out of 942 children 604 self-reported to have stopped CSE and 219 gone back to School.
Reliable statistics are not available to determine the level/ incidence of sexual exploitation of street working children. From observation, many street children, and children who live in slums are involved in child prostitution and child abuse.
A study on rapid ethnography called “Learning about children in Mombasa urban slums” conducted in April 2013 reported that men in the West Coast sides of Mombasa gave young girls food, especially fried potatoes, as a means of enticing them to have sex (Kostelny et al. 2013). Girls frequently traded sex for food, money, mobile phones, payment of school fees, and necessities such as sanitary pads. This has been corroborated by findings from the baseline survey in the ICRHK-led CSEC project which indicated that many children in Changamwe sub county traded sex for food