Sex tourism and the sexualisation of a culture

African news crews have been encamped outside a Kenyan Mombasa courtroom where 11 African women and a Swedish male face charges of prostitution contrary to the sexual offence act.

It has been widely reported that the women engaged in acts of bestiality with a German shepherd dog whilst being filmed by Swedish national, Christopher Weissenrieder. The women in their 20s who are said to have been enrolled as college students have been detained following further investigations as the police continue to look for another African woman who they believe, acted with Swedish man to coerce the women into prostitution. (She is currently on the run at the time of writing.)

What this case highlights is the way in which the exploitation of the African female has continued long after the last enslaver has left its shores. These videos shot for DVD production and online pay for view sites are made for the sexual gratification of the west, with many of these videos going to the States, Australia, and Europe. The porn industry in Kenya has been going on for a number of years, with the full knowledge of many in this east African country, with very little outcry.

Whilst this particular, illicit operation had been under surveillance for a number of months it would seem that this is not even the tip of the iceberg. These African women will face a long and embarrassing trial and their pornographic images may well be aired for all the court to see. Their shame was evident as they were led to court with heads bowed, their false hair covering their real humiliation. There has been some dispute as to whether a dog (said to be owned by Weissenrieder) has been involved in these sexual acts but none the less, the dog is not on trial but possibly the morality of African women, in this internet-led, hyper-sexualised, 21st century.

Sex tourism is nothing new in Africa or the Caribbean as many of these post–colonial countries have been the resting place for many a European for decades. In Jamaica, the traveller does not have to travel far to catch a ‘freak show’ where live sex is staged for the audience as they drink, eat and pay for a lap dance, with rooms upstairs if the patrons wish to take the ‘show’ further.

This is not an issue that can be placed solely at the foot of the African content but wherever there are people who feel that money earned by honest means or foul, will get them out of the state of deprivation they may see around them, then there will be those who will always be tempted to do things many of their country men/women would feel truly abhorrent.

A fact Weissenrieder would be fully aware of. As a former UN worker, he would have witnessed the devastation caused by lack of money and lack of resources within many of the communities he has worked in. This white, balding man, would have known full well that his hue is his cache, as a certain type of African will look at him and feel he has the access to a better life for them.

The aftermath of this case may send ricochets throughout the continent and Caribbean, where the porn industry is becoming one of the fastest growing export markets, with governments on both sides of the globe, doing little to shut these places down, perhaps feeling employment by any means necessary is a positive procurement for their precarious economies.

Whilst these women are far from typical of the African female, we must ask ourselves why is it more and more young black women are going down this sexualised route? The contemporary Hip-Hop/RnB music video is often, little more than legalised soft porn. A quick search on YouTube you will often see children as young as six gyrating along to these televised images for the delight of family and friends.

In the U.K the debate continues as to what is considered ‘age-appropriate’ to introduce ‘porn discussions’ into the classroom. Recently the Sex Education Forum – a coalition of children’s charities and health groups – recommended that schools teach that porn is “not all bad” as part of PSHE lessons. With primary schools having the option to opt out but with the ‘young porn surfer’ becoming younger and younger, this opt out choice may change as the debate and public opinion shifts.

Back in 2008, Rasna Warah wrote, “In Nairobi, pornography dens were springing up all over the place and of films of women and children engaging in acts of “bestiality” (as one officer put it), should be cause for extreme alarm. Reports indicate that the sale of graphic pornographic material has skyrocketed in recent years and that children are being lured into this evil trade by unscrupulous peddlers.

The African body continues to be a commodity bought and sold for the gratification of men in darkened rooms who think nothing about the ramifications of their deviant tastes and lifestyles. These women now standing in the dock, may or may not have been destitute and may well have known exactly what they were doing, with a German Shepherd, or not. Their desire for fast money has meant that they are complicit in the crime and will share in the blame along with their white pornographic video producer.

Weissenrieder will probably serve his time in a slightly uncomfortable prison cell but with personal funds, he may well buy his way out of any serious incarceration and may soon be on the next available plane back to Sweden, with his African stories and white middle-class liberty intact as the title of ‘African porn producer’ may well carry a certain kudos in his hometown. The women, on the other hand, will have to go back to their communities and may well be treated as pariahs once their imprisonment has been served. Their faces have been splashed all over African newspapers and internet sites for the world to see. This was not the type of exposure they were hoping for. A calculated risk they may have been well aware of but now the stark reality of their situation will undoubtedly override any remuneration they might have received.

We can only hope the Swede gets the full weight of Kenyan law thrown at him and he breaks rocks in the heat, in the hope of deterring other porn peddlers from plying their trade on the continent and in the Caribbean but as we are too aware, where there is a lack of employment there will always be those who will take advantage and prey on the most vulnerable and naive of our African society.


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