How Kenyans are lured into domestic servitude and forced prostitution

Posted  Sunday, May 1 2011 at 22:32

It operates as a well-guarded trade with coded language and hideous deals.


Children are lured with promises of a better life only to end up in the hands of torturers.

Young girls are enticed with well-paying jobs in cities but end up as sex slaves or domestic servants.

Welcome to the world of human trafficking.

Kenya is ranked among source, transit and destination countries for trafficked persons due to its porous borders and poor surveillance by security officials.

Kenya and Tanzania serve as transit routes for Ethiopian women being trafficked to Europe and the Middle East.

Meanwhile, Kenyan children are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude, forced labour in agriculture, cattle herding, bar jobs and prostitution.

According to the 10th edition of the US Department of State ‘Trafficking in Persons Report’ released in June last year, Kenyan children are forced into domestic servitude, prostitution — including in sex tourism industry — and forced labour in agriculture, fishing, cattle herding, street vending and bars.

The report says drought, hunger, civil and political strife have resulted in a rise in forced displacement, a perfect condition for trafficking.

“Trafficked Kenyan adults are exploited in involuntary domestic servitude and forced prostitution. Kenyan men, women, and children voluntarily migrate to the Middle East, other East African nations, and Europe in search of employment, where they are exploited in domestic servitude, massage parlours and brothels, and forced manual labour, including in the construction industry,” the report says.

According to an earlier Trafficking in Persons report released in 2007, about 600,000 to 800,000 individuals are trafficked across international borders with millions more trafficked within their own countries each year.

According to a children’s watchdog, The Cradle, the number could be higher as most of the cases go unreported.

The Cradle cites parents as the major actors in the trade, especially in rural areas, where they ‘give’ their children to relatives in towns to help them get jobs

“Most of those who come to Nairobi and other major towns find themselves in unknown destinations,” Mr Martin Namachanja of The Cradle said in an earlier interview with the Nation.

Children’s homes have also turned into major trading areas as those running them are brokers, Mr Namachanja said.

The trend is most rampant in Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, with children at the coastal town being used as sex slaves.

In Kenya, relatives, friends and persons living in the victims’ neighbourhood are identified as recruiters. The recruiters are both men and women.

The report says at least 10 Kenyan victims remained in detention in Saudi Arabia at the end of the reporting period. The report faults the government for failing to actively participate in condemning the illegal trade.

“The government does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so,” says the report.


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