Kariobangi: Where teenage girls are lured into sex trade by older women
It is a neighborhood where frustrated single mothers, whose dreams were cut short, seem hellbent on ensuring that innocent teenage girls follow the same path of self destruction.
According to locals, these women in Kariobangi, some of whom operate brothels, entice the naïve young girls with sweet nothings about how pleasurable sex is, and end up hooking them with adult men, with the main aim to spoil their future and ensure that they too, just like them, do not realize their objectives for a better future.
Due to lack of guidance, knowledge, mentors and with the excitement of first time experiences, most of these girls end up astray; the reason majority of them are single, underage, unemployed, immature and inexperienced with huge responsibilities of parenthood.
Despite the integrated training centers for community development projects that have been initiated by Non-governmental organizations and other support groups, to better a girl child’s life and position in the society, most of the girls seem to have been brainwashed with making quick money and have not taken advantage of such opportunities apart from the wise few.
According to the residents, majority of them spend much of their time on hair and make-up to gain sex appeal – the reason they have ventured into drugs and brewing illicit alcohol such as chang’aa for instant cash.
Alice Njeri, a standard seven dropout and a mother of two, says she was introduced into the vice by a woman who posed and acted as her mother’s best friend. She says, the lady had treated her with a motherly love for years that she always regarded her as her second mum.
Alice, 19, says she was only 14 when this woman introduced to a brothel with the promise that she will enrich her family in a couple of months. At her age and without understanding what her “mum” was up to, she started lying to her mother and missing school without any explanation to the school administration.
All this while, she had been going to the brothel to do unimaginable things with men as old as her grandfather. It was until she fell pregnant that all hell broke loose. She says, she didn’t know and still does not know who her baby’s father is, as she was always intoxicated during the act.
Her “mum” who should have come to her rescue, denied ever introducing her to the brothel. The money she had been promised that could have been her only consolation was not paid.
“I felt like the entire world was against me. If only I could turn back the hands of time. My mother had so much hope in me. She invested in me through my education and I let her down. I have children who do not know their dad. My family struggles to make ends meet. It’s just so frustrating,” says the disgruntled Alice.
Ann Atieno, who is seven months pregnant, says she was lured into the vice which has become a trend in Kariobangi by a close relative whom she refused to mention.
According to her, the relative always praised her beauty and invited her to small events like children’s birthdays. At those birthday parties, the lady took the liberty to introduce her to men whom she said were her friends. Little did she know the reason for her relative’s love, until one day she showed her how to use her beauty to make money.
This relative, she says, used to bring men to her house and sometimes forced her to skip school in order to make money. Out of the money she made, she was always given a small percentage for her personal use. The rest of money, she says, was saved for future.
Ann’s case is no different to Alice’s. Her relative, who supposedly loved her so much, left the estate as soon as she realized that Ann was pregnant and had contracted an STI.
“My relative realized I was pregnant but didn’t say anything. She further found out that I had contracted STI but could not do anything to help. Instead she disappeared into the thin air. This is my seventh month of pregnancy but I have never seen the man who impregnated me. My relative knows him. I leave everything to God,” says Ann.
Joseph Oluoch, a community mobiliser who creates awareness of the importance of training centers initiated in the community to the girls, says his is a very tough job.
Most of the girls do not believe in the training centers and often ask for sitting allowance if they have to attend the training sessions. He says, some of them can’t even read and on top of that do not have time to attend classes.
“I walk around this neighborhood from house to house as I know most of these girls. Most of them are used to handouts and too engaged in other activities to attend the training sessions. Some even ask for sitting allowances for them to attend the sessions,” says Oluoch.