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Youth Leader Dreams of Ending Child Exploitation in Kenya

"Child exploitation has been around for decades. Over the years,we have received reports of street children,in particular,who have been coaxed by tourists and other people to pose nude and their pictures sold and circulated abroad for a small fee. These are some of my concerns i want to talk about at the conference.I grew up in the ghetto and managed to graduate from high school and join college and proceed on how to change my community for the better. I come from Obunga slum, One of the biggest slum in western Kenya region. I am working hard to see that my people surely change their ways for the better."

This was a narration and statement made by Willam Odhiambo Ondenge, a youth leader who is trying to make a difference in his home country of Kenya. Despite all the odds he is determined to contribute to a better future.

Pornography is taking a creepy form in Kenya with children right at the center of the tangle. Other than being consumers, they are now part of the cast. Girls as young as 13 years are stripping naked and parading their bodies as cameras click away for a fee.

Scores of others are getting deeper than that. They are hopping into bed with strangers and willingly getting captured in action. The video samples of which i my team purchased from Kisumu backstreet's are sold locally and abroad in what is quickly emerging as a multi-million sex industry. That pornography has reached frightening levels is a fact that scares the Kenya Film Censorship Board.

"You may not believe it, but our country is absolutely rotten. There is much consumption of pornography. It is rampant, it is scary, it is beyond our control." concedes Mr. David Pkosing,the Boards CEO.

Pkosing's unease is indeed understandable.During a swoop at downtown Kisumu in April, his team confisticated thousands of tapes from video vendors featuring girls. Most shattering is that some of them are filmed having sex with domesticated animals-dogs and horses.

Some teens are hooked to the illicit practice not because of money but out of sheer fun. They consider it fashionable and as one youth mentions,"live-porn is the in-thing if you are not aware."

Most parents ,as well as child welfare officers ,have all along battled accessibility of pornographic literature by children. But they never envisaged involvement of children in the production of the same.Indeed,this reality is devastating.


The illicit exercise takes three basic forms. Video recordings in hotel rooms and private villas, live sex performances in estate halls and striptease in clubs, where the tens stage nude parades.

At lakeside town, Kisumu,the youth have confessed to performing in private villas and cottages where they face no risk of arrest. Here,the market is very lucrative as the barons in the business, mainly tourists, pay a handsome fee for the recordings, which they sell abroad in form of DVD and VCD.

Inn Kisumu, there is an even more blizzard episode of a live pornographic show otherwise known as "mchaka-mchaka " by locals.

At Obunga slum where Ondengewe live, they do it differently. Instead of playing recorded "stale" materials, young people give their audience a "live treat" by engaging in sex on the stage.

To be part of the crowd, one parts with shs.20. The actors and the event organizers share the spoils and depending on the size of the crowd, the girls make between shs.400-1,500 a night.

Even more worrying about live shows in the slums,where the driving factor is poverty, is that some of the acting couples engage in sex without protection. But as one "actress" told me,the philosophy here is simple-"better die ten or so years later of HIV/AIDS than today of hunger.

Meanwhile,in the relatively exotic striptease joints in the city centers, a clandestine racket where underage girls locked in a safe room away from the public arena are only released secretly on special request by the client.

"This is public place.You will not find those ones (underage strippers) in the main dancing hall but if you are keen we can make special arrangements" said a bouncer at a pouplar club in Kisumu.

At this very joint,to access the underage strippers,a client pays an extra shs.1,000,for the VIP secluded rooms,over the usual shs.250 gate charge.


Willam Ondenge, who is also an applicant for the World Creative Youth Forum (WCYF) 2009 happening in the Philippines on May 5-10 says, "For those who share my dreams,let us meet at the forum and make one voice.If you want to contact me,i don't mind so long as well talk about changing our communities for the better."

We are all and one in this planet and it is our duty to help every person that we can possibly help. We can't let things like these exist in this world... for if it continues what is the essence of human rights and human dignity?

Story Reference: Willam Odhiambo Ondenge,

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