14 October 2018

Kenya: Award-Winning Film Explores Underage Prostitution in Kenya

It took home "Best Documentary" in the sixth edition of Africa Magic Viewers' Choice Awards but The Flesh Business is not just any other documentary.

The 60-minute film explores underage prostitution at the Kenyan coast and follows the story of three women as they take the audience through the challenges of their profession.

Denis Wanjohi Maina, the documentary's maker, says that an underage girl, Tina, walked up to him and offered her body while he was on vacation in Mombasa.

According to Maina, the girl was only 17 and had been a sex worker since she was 13. "What could push someone to degrade their bodies like that?"

To get answers this question, Maina conducted his own investigation into Tina's life. What he found out was chilling. She had been sexually and physically abused by family members and friends at an early age.

Some things you don't run away from, like when a teenage girl stops you in the street to solicit sex at a small fee of, say Sh50. Something had to be done and so The Flesh Business was born.

The documentary sheds light on the rampant prostitution at the Coast but tells it from the perspective of commercial sex workers.

Maina believes that sex workers, too, need to be humanised. "Society tends to prejudge these women and girls without acknowledging the factors that led them to that kind of life in the first place."

While working on the documentary, Maina uncovered some shocking revelations about the prostitution ring at the Coast - there are powerful players at the top of it all.

He has been threatened, harassed and even had some of his footage deleted, but a man like Maina just doesn't scare easily.

He self-funded the entire film. It took him a year to finish his project because he would sometimes run out of funds.

"When you get to talk to them and get submerged into their world, knowing their stories, you find that there are factors that contributed to them choosing this kind of life."

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