‘Elderly White Women’ Look to Kenya for Sex Tourism

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  11.26.07 | 11:55 AM ET

imageResidents along the Kenyan coast “estimate that as many as one in five single women visiting from rich countries are in search of sex,” according to a Reuters story. The country is “just full of big young boys who like us older girls,” a pair of 50- and 60-something tourists from England tells correspondent Jeremy Clarke. By “big young boys,” the ladies seem to be referring to consenting 20-something men, which makes the arrangements legal. That doesn’t make it right, though.

Clarke addresses the issues of power, race, the colonial past and health risks raised by such arrangements. Hoteliers and the Kenyan tourism officials, for their part, see the arrangements as “unwholesome,” and have taken steps to make guests they suspect of engaging in this type of sex tourism “uncomfortable.”

Still, the parties involved—at least those Clarke spoke with—seem not to mind. A 22-year-old man named Joseph who claims to have slept with “more than 100 white women” says, “When I go into the clubs, those are the only women I look for now. I get to live like the rich mzungus (white people) who come here from rich countries, staying in the best hotels and just having my fun.”

As for the English ladies, 50-something Bethan calls it a “social arrangement.” She says: “I buy him a nice shirt and we go out for dinner. For as long as he stays with me he doesn’t pay for anything, and I get what I want—a good time. How is that different from a man buying a young girl dinner?”

Related on World Hum:
* Ethical Traveler Takes On Child Sex Trafficking in Cambodia
* John Burdett on Thailand, Sex and ‘The Quiet Farang’

Photo of a Mombasa beach by The Wandering Angel, via Flickr (Creative Commons)

Tags: Africa, Kenya

31 Comments for ‘Elderly White Women’ Look to Kenya for Sex Tourism

emily 11.26.07 | 3:18 PM ET

How is that different from a man buying a young girl dinner?

Haven’t we fought pretty hard to get rid of the stereotype that buying dinner implies that the girl owes the man anything?

Jeannette Belliveau 11.27.07 | 1:45 PM ET

In response to the article and to Emily, the arrangements in Kenya, and pretty much worldwide, show that sex is a commodity for women now, as it once was for men. The poor men in these countries and the relatively affluent women visiting them exchange afffection for material items.

emily 11.27.07 | 3:23 PM ET

But what I’m saying is that I don’t believe sex should be a commodity unless it is specified as such.  ie I believe in prostitution, but do not believe that courtship activities (dating) should contribute to the comodification of sex for men OR women.

rmd 11.27.07 | 6:10 PM ET

I’ve seen this in other areas of the world as well.  Often as it turns out, these “Cougars” are actually hooking up with men under the age of 18.  Never have I seen one of these women ask for an ID. 

It’s explotation, no matter how you dress or undress it.  These “boys” as the ladies like to call them, should be in school or working in a legitimate business.  Or in some cases back with their wives and children.

Reverse the idea. Even if it were nasty white men picking up local women over 18, there would still be a hue and cry about explotation. 

A double standard if there ever was one, and not a healthy one given the high percentage of HIV.

Jeannette Belliveau 11.28.07 | 12:02 AM ET

Affection, sex and male attention are something very missing in the lives of many otherwise successful women in the Western world. There simply aren’t enough available men, especially for urban women and black women.

Thus men overseas with winning personalities become attractive options for women who do not wish to live as celibates and who travel to alleviate this loneliness.

As for rmd’s comment, oftentimes the only way these boys CAN go to school is via the patronage of a Western female lover. I personally know of a male student in Tobago whose girlfriend pays for him to go to the community college there. Otherwise ... he couldn’t afford it.

It’s commonplace to label these transactions as exploitive when often they are simply transactions that leave both parties feeling a little bit more hopeful about their future.

Scribetrotter 12.05.07 | 4:58 PM ET

It’s not just Western women. As long as 10 years ago I wrote a story on the ‘gigolos’ of Kuta Beach in Bali - 40+ Japanese women would travel there on holidays and spend a week or two with a ‘friend’. These same young men would then be targets for HIV prevention peer-to-peer workers, as this was a transmission channel for the virus.

Jeannette Belliveau 12.05.07 | 7:04 PM ET

Absolutely, Scribetrotter. This behavior is seen by women—white, black, Asian and Hispanic—in all the world’s resorts.

I wonder if I have seen your story? Hopefully yes, I try to read everything on this topic.

emily 12.06.07 | 3:56 PM ET

Just because it is commonplace or not limited to Western women doesn’t get rid of the economic exploitation. 

And I’m sure many of these women would prefer not to sexually exploit these men, but don’t know how to conduct their affairs in a more fair manner.

open is more likely to be fair.  I mostly have a problem with the women who are treating these men like boyfriends, but expecting service in return.

rmd 12.06.07 | 4:48 PM ET

It’s amazing how the exploitation of these men and “boys” is justified as coming from not receiving enough affection at home or in the guise of helping someone through school.

If I substituted “elderly white women” for “elderly white men” and even allowed that these nasty old men were actually “dating” women who reached the age of majority, then it would still be derided as wrong.

What a bunch of hypocrites who post this!  These women “do not know how to conduct their affairs in a more fair manner?”  Pardon?  These are not dementia effected old white women.  A poor excuse, really.  Maybe somebody should writea book, then, with over sized print, so they can get up to speed on how to properly have an affair. 

Due to my work, I have personally been with some of these white women who decide to bestow their “charity” or company on a local.  They do not ask for IDs, and never once have I heard any one of these women say they will be tested for HIV or any STDs before going back home to their husbands or SOs.

In addition, there are very often local wives and children that the man just “forgot” to tell the woman sex tourists about, and of course she forgot to ask about.  Don’t ask and don’t tell, and the woman back in the village will never know.

This is a double standard that causes nothing but harm.

Jeannette Belliveau 12.06.07 | 5:27 PM ET

Rmd writes, “This is a double standard that causes nothing but harm.”

Too sweeping. Your dismissal is simply not true. One in 30 of these relationships becomes long term, so there is potential for genuine feeling on both sides. Among many of the remaining relationships, there is mutual short-term benefit.

And what is your point about “asking for IDs” ?

Jeannette Belliveau 12.06.07 | 5:30 PM ET

Emily—re your point about so-called economic exploitation—are you saying that the men are not being adequately compensated?

Leon 12.07.07 | 12:41 PM ET

Whats wrong if these women want to have some fun and companion. I personally know a middle age lady visiting a beach resort to get “laid” as she put it. As long as she has no bad intention its fine.
Morever, young guys at these places attract them as being exotic experience worth bringing back from a holiday

emily 12.07.07 | 3:55 PM ET

rmd - I mean that these women are unaware of the negative side of what they are doing, and would hopefully, with some education, do things differently.  No guarantee, but I’m giving them the benefit of the doubt.

Jeanette- re economic exploitation, I mean that what they are willing to work for may not be a fair price. And that they might prefer to do something else if both compensations were equal, but that the women take advantage of a situation where the men are desperate for money.  ie, the only way they can go to school is to be a gigolo.  I think the answer is scholarships, not paying for sex.

rmd 12.10.07 | 9:08 AM ET

Re.: Jeannette Belliveau ...
Well, well, one in thirty of these relationships turns into a LTR.  Where is the empirical data for that?  And what is the point of a woman asking a child for an ID?  My answer: what is the point of some nasty man with hair growing out of his ears asking a young girl if she is of the age of consent?  No difference.

Leon: No problem with two adults having fun and getting laid, but often these are “boys”.  Young kids.  To pretend otherwise is to deny the obvious. 

Jeanette… if you think the cash these guys (boys) are getting is for school books, then I’m Einstein.  It’s not.  No more than the little girl hooking up with the nasty old man is paying for pens and paper. 

Once again, if this were reversed, and it was young woman, underage, a child, or even of age but young, who were being bought and paid for by nasty old men most here would be decrying the fact.  In addition, they would be upset about what the guy would be bringing back STD or HIV wise to his wife or SO.  At least admit your allowance for a double standard, and we can all move on.

Jeannette Belliveau 12.10.07 | 10:36 PM ET

Rmd: The empirical evidence for the one in 30 of such relationships turning into a long-term relationship is found in the following survey:

Hellberg, Dan, et al., “Casual Travel Sex, Sex Tourism and International Prostitution,” Travel Medicine International, 15.4 (1997), Page 145.

Any more questions? I never post idly.

I never said the guys were getting cash for schoolbooks. A family member founded a community college in the Caribbean; she has received tuition directly from a student’s foreign boyfriend. Again ... we see tuitions paid, not cash for schoolbooks.

Again ... I don’t post idly. I’ve done my research, for years.

I’m happy to get rid of the double standard. So, let’s have some sympathy for lonely men, and women, looking for affection outside their home countries, and finding members of the opposite sex (and lately, the same sex) to provide it.

I return to the questions of IDs. Rmd mistakenly asserts “younger men” is a term identical to “boys.” Most beach boys around the world range in age from 18 to 35. Their women visitors range in age from teen-agers to 60; most are in their 30s and 40s. Most typically, you have a young man with a slightly older woman; maybe the man is 33, the woman is 41. Three nations already are seeing domestically that women are marrying younger, not older men, at home, so this holiday romance pattern is becoming less and less unusual to what happens at home.

malvin 02.03.08 | 6:12 AM ET

am looking for those women who are after sex.am interested

mamaron 03.04.08 | 4:36 PM ET

i just wnat meet white women for sharing good things in life

rmd 03.04.08 | 4:47 PM ET

This insipid debate is still going on?  Let’s update the surveys. And 11 year old survey hardly reflects the explosion of sex tourism in the last decade.  The fact is, I have seen with my own eyes older woman hooking up with mere boys and with younger men.  I know that some of these men are married and have women and children at home.  As for women having sex with boys, well, I guess you can justify anything in the name of loneliness.  When you look into the stone cold eyes of a young girl who has just finished with her nasty white man, then I guess you can just chalk that off to the bloke being lonely too.

kimathi 03.11.08 | 4:43 AM ET

I wish to say that many thing that have been said about white women is not true. I kenya many who can speak foregn language are above 18 . The white women ussually make friend ship with their guides( tour guide) if the have to do sex the do medical test first something that white men never do. I think we are all out for fun.. thank for taking these ladies positively.. KARIBU KENYA ( welcome kenya)..

Paul 03.15.08 | 2:38 AM ET

sex tourism destroyed Thailand and now its the turn of Kenya

johnny ochieng 03.22.08 | 7:26 AM ET

hi i am a kenyan and i do not think there is any thing wrong with the older girls having sex with younger big boys in kenya .Any body is free to have sex wherever they wish well i would love to show some older girls fun and show them what they love seeing most the Ghetto life All entertainment inclusive with well built young big boys in Nairobi,kenya just email me <johnnyochieng@yahoo.com> and get to learn more later

johnny ochieng 03.22.08 | 7:36 AM ET

i almost forgot any students exchange programme students wishing to learn more about kenya and people of kenya should get in touch with me get to see the ghetto life and have fun in our local clubs fool of live rumba and other musics too im a cool tour guide fun n live well for more info meet me on this email<johnnyochieng@yahoo.com> i am in Nairobi kenya close to Nairobi National park where we have great wild life come on gilrs and enjoy your selves waaaaooooooo KARIBU KENYA .

Tony 03.27.08 | 8:29 AM ET

I do agree that it is NOT good to engage young boys into sexual relationships. But how young is young? Am 24yrs and if a 50 or 60+ lady dated me for sex i will rush and most probably she will go back home praising Kenyan ‘boys’ let us first define a young boy and a grown up guy/boy like me. I have no problem to receive your views or invites when you come to Kenya on .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) . i can take you around Kenya according to your interests regardless of your age.

Karl 03.27.08 | 5:14 PM ET

Regarding the comment about there not being enough available men,well there are 3 million single available men in Britain,but British women are so fussy with impossibly long lists regarding sex and dating that these men get passed by,I’m one of them,I’m 40 and have been without all my life,women say I’m nice,but only want me as a friend,instead they date bastards or rich men.

rmd 03.27.08 | 5:52 PM ET

Karl, the turn about here is fair play.  Just go to a third world country and hook up with a young girl.  This will make you more popular at home, because then you will be one of those bastards—and worse.  Of course, you ‘ll have to take the heat from those Brit matronly ladies 40 plus who have just shagged a young boy—excuse—a young man, who see nothing wrong with their actions because…well… they are a woman doing it.  Good luck!

Mutiso 04.02.08 | 8:58 AM ET

Mtwapa, where I live, is probably the centre of the sex tourism industry in Kenya. I have noticed an increase in the number of foreign ladies cruising around with local fellas. Without moralising about it, if the guys are earning good money in this trade then they are less likely to end up breaking into my house so good luck to them.

Another point, I have frequently seen passportless white men crying in the main street in Mtwapa, sometimes naked, complaining that some local girl has ripped them off but I have never seen a white woman in that situation.
Are the local men more trustworthy than the local girls or are the white women less stupid than their male counterparts??

Tony 04.02.08 | 11:26 AM ET

But i don’t think Kenya is to blame. As long as there is foreign exchange coming hand in hand with the package. concerned Kenyan guy 24. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

David 04.04.08 | 2:25 AM ET

Looking for a lady to screwup really nice.

Tony 04.04.08 | 3:24 AM ET

Do you want to tell me that all these guys saying they are looking for theses women are actually molested? NO! They are mature enough… and may the game continue…concerned Kenyan supporting sex tourism if maturely practiced. get in touch.. .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

johnny ochieng 04.05.08 | 7:40 AM ET

yeah yeah most off us want to have fun with white ladies its a fact that they no so guyz lets stop pretending that we’ve been molested after having fun from our own free will and as i said before everyone has the right to have sex where   ever they wish and with whom ever they wish still those fun loving white students and all white ladies are welcome to be shown around bye this cool fun guy at <johnnyochieng@yahoo.com>
cool .

kiran shah 04.12.08 | 1:36 PM ET

As long as u get the satisfaction in sex i see no reason why the old ladies must not have sex with the young boys in kenya, theres nothing to fret about.Let the old ladies have all the fun n enjoy life after all man r made for woman n woman r made for man.All the ladies r welcome to kenya for sex.I m also available but u dont have to buy me a shirt n i dont wont ur money also lets us enjoy together I m asian Indian aged 40 n my email add is .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) n i m available free.so get in touch with me.

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