Article by R. Muko.
Lewa R., Christensen J. and Adhoch P. (2004) Human Trafficking in Kenya: The Extent, Forms and Nature of Human Exploitation Today. Nairobi. Kenya Peace Network.
In November 2014 three organizations namely Solidarity with Women in Distress (SOLWODI), Trace Kenya and Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART) published a study entitled “Human Trafficking in Kenya: The extent, forms and Nature of Exploitation Today.” The three are members of the Kenya Peace Network (KPN). A network of organizations working to promote human rights and basic freedoms in Kenya.
The strength of the study is that it draws from the experiences of the three organizations in addressing the problem of human trafficking in Kenya. As can be remembered SOLWODI was at the forefront in training hotels to implement the code of conduct to prevent sexual exploitation in the travel and tourism sector a program it had started since early 2000s. By 2007 it was pushing to get the coastal hotels to sign it. Apart from its work with the code, the organization has done great work in providing psycho social and emotional assistance to the commercial sex workers of Mombasa. Trace Kenya on the other hand works with communities, individuals, partners, institutions and organizations in the coastal areas to counter human trafficking. Trace Kenya works with vulnerable populations that could be easily susceptible to sexual and other forms of exploitation such as labor; child pornography, sex tourism, early child marriages, forced marriages and gender based violence. Lastly HAART works to create awareness against human trafficking in the grassroots communities in Nairobi and its environs, assisting victims of trafficking, prosecuting offenders and conducting research.
The study “Human Trafficking in Kenya: The extent, forms and Nature of Exploitation Today” has provided information on the extent of human trafficking exploring topics such as smuggling, sexual exploitation, cultural migration and cultural practices in Kenya. Cultural practices include beading and female genital mutilation in some communities and more generally the diminished space of women to participate in ownership. The study is careful on the question of statistics and uses those provided by ECPAT suggesting that 25,000 children living in the Kenyan streets (60,000 in Nairobi) are vulnerable to human trafficking and harzadous forms of child labour. The most common form of human trafficking in Kenya is centered on “child domestic work”. The study also acknowledges that migrants are at a risk of exploitation giving examples of Kenyans in the Middle East and refugees from neighboring countries around Kenya. The study also shows that Asians and Eastern Europeans are also trafficked to Kenya. Young Kenyan males are also in danger of being recruited in militia and terror groups. The study identifies human trafficking routes and communities where trafficking is most likely to occur. The study finds that though internal human trafficking is very evident in Kenya, it is not known. One gap that the study left out was the issue of infants trafficking which is quite a common happens time and again in our hospitals.
Though the study explores the legislative environment in Kenya, it does not go deep. It mentions the 2010 counter trafficking act, the 2001 children act, 2006 sexual offenses act and 2007 Employment Act and only mentions scantly about their relevance to the heinous crime of human trafficking. On the other hand the study acknowledges that it is difficult to bring culprits to book and at times the victims are the ones who would find themselves victimized by the laws that are supposed to protect them. A situation like this shows a weakness in the legal system that needs analysis and solution. The study also mentions about the Counter Trafficking Taskforce that was disbanded in 2013. It however does not evaluate how effective its work was and whether it needs to be revived. Lastly, despite there being the human trafficking laws, there is a need to assess whether existence of other related laws such as the the 2001 children act, 2006 sexual offenses act, 2007 Employment Act and the penal code provides a strength of action to counter trafficking endeavors. On the other hand a critical assessment of the government efforts would be in order; law enforcement and other supportive services.
The study remains however a great eye opener on the manifestations of human trafficking in Kenya. It is a great contribution in the subject and would become of great benefit to the concerned government ministries, civil society, academia and the research community.