Claims that young boys undergoing a rite of passage are made to have sexual intercourse with paid commercial sex workers in some parts of Kiambu have raised concern among residents and administrators.
The revelation came out during a sensitization forum held in Thika town organized by a local Non-Governmental Organization in collaboration with senior government departmental heads and other stakeholders in the community.
Thika West Deputy County Commissioner (DCC) Mbogo Mathioya told the participants that reports reaching his office indicated that Gikuyu elders (Athuri a Kiama) and some clergy involved in the rite of passage to young boys are leading them to sexual encounters with prostitutes.
The practice is believed to complete a cultural sex cleansing requirement called "kuhura mugiro" (brushing off bad omen).
Some local religious sects known as 'Gwata Ndaai' and 'Kabonokia' are also said to be linked to the rituals meant to transit the boys to manhood.
There are allegations that the sex workers are sometimes hired by the elders and the clergy in agreement with their parents.
"Many of the young men are pushed into this sexual cleansing in which they are given the impression that without it, they will suffer great misfortune in life or perhaps lead to death," Mathioya said.
However, the DCC termed this as an awkward, primitive and retrogressive culture that is putting the boy child at risk of contracting sexually transmitted diseases including the newly discovered super gonorrhea as they don't use protection.
"The horrifying thing is that after the boys are introduced to the practice, they are now sneaking into the brothels even in school uniforms," the administrator added.
The trend, he said, has prompted his office to deploy police officers backed by community policing personnel armed with whips to be on the lookout and chase the boys out of the town during the opening and closing of schools.
"We are also intensifying crackdowns on commercial sex workers. Women caught with the underage boys will be charged with the relevant offence," Mathioya warned.
He noted that the practice is rampant in towns along the Thika superhighway.
However, leaders of commercial sex workers have absolved their members from blame.
Jane Waithera, who is the Chairperson of Kiambu Sex Workers Alliance, an organization fighting for the rights of sex workers in Kiambu county, pointed an accusing finger at the elders and clergy saying their action is putting the girls into collision with law enforcers thus putting their "business" in jeopardy.
However, she confirmed that some boys sneak into lodging rooms with the twilight girls but added that their members have been warned against it.
The Chairman of Athuri a Kiama Thika chapter James Karatu distanced himself from the barbaric act saying a splinter group was responsible and not the entire Kikuyu elders.
He promised to mobilize his Athuri a Kiama elders and give a comprehensive statement on the same.