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UN report didn’t find ‘30% of all teenage girls on Kenya’s coast are prostitutes’ as national daily claimed

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Three in 10 teenage girls on Kenya’s coast are prostitutes, a national newspaper has reported.

This was the finding of a new United Nations report on human trafficking, the online edition of the Standard said in August 2018.

An estimated 15,000 children aged between 12 and 18 were involved in the trade, the story reported. This figure “represents 30% of all girls within the age bracket living in Diani, Kilifi, Malindi and Mombasa”.

‘Report did not make any estimates’

The UN report, published in May 2018 and titled Assessment Report on Human Trafficking Situation in the Coastal Region of Kenya, is by the International Organization for Migration.  

But their research did not make any estimates of the number of children involved in prostitution at the coast, Agnese Accapezzato, a counter-trafficking and migration officer at the UN agency, told Africa Check. She is one of the report’s authors.

"It was not a finding from our report, but we found it in the literature review and have cited the source in our report," she said.

Unicef study had significant flaws

In a previous fact-check, Africa Check traced the same statistic to a 2006 report by UN child agency Unicef and the Kenyan government.

The report claimed that “some ten to fifteen thousand girls living in [the] coastal areas of Malindi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Diani are involved in casual sex work – up to 30% of all 12-18 year olds living in these areas”.

Experts told Africa Check that the methods used to make this estimate had significant flaws. At best, the Unicef study is useful in understanding the factors that lead to child prostitution, but not in reaching any strong conclusion about the numbers involved. - Vincent Ng’ethe (08/08/2018)

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