World Day against Trafficking of persons; Child trafficking rampant in Kenya’s coastal region
By Ann Wambui
Human trafficking is the exploitation of women, children and men for purposes of forced labor, forced marriages, forced begging, child soldiers and sex tools and millions of people fall victims of this crime. In some cases, children are exploited in the name of adoption, very poor families sell children in order to survive and thereafter engaged as laborers and sexual workers, resulting to losing of their rights and identity.
According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime Global Report on Trafficking in Persons, almost a third of all human trafficking victims worldwide are actually children and women and girls comprise 71 per cent of human trafficking victims.
This year, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) has chosen ‘responding to the trafficking of children and young people’ as the focus of the World Day. Children are usually taken to foreign countries where they do not have knowledge of local language to minimize communication of telling locals who they are and why they are there. Usually, their identification documents are stripped away from them and threatened with punishments should they tell on their traffickers.
According to a report by International Organization for Migrants 2018, children trafficked to the Kenyan Coastal region particularly for sex work or forced to work as domestic laborers in farms, fisheries, begging and farming. The country represents an attractive route to smuggle and transit migrants due to stability and infrastructure.
Girls are vulnerable to exploitation as they are recruited to work in hair salons or restaurants but end up in sex tourism at the coastal area. Children often go missing when families are migrating through the Southern Africa route intending to cross the Kenyan border near Moyale, through Marsabit before getting to Nairobi. Data collected shows up to 30% of girls between age 12-18 have been forced into commercial sex before arriving from other parts of the country to Kilifi, Diani, Malindi and Mombasa.
In the same report, we note that sexual exploitation of children in that region is rampant because of high level of acceptance from the community. Both young girls and boys trade sex for no money or little for pocket market, rating child trafficking at 97%, forced marriage 90%.
Our recommendations would be that;
(i). The community be made aware of the trafficking problem at hand and how to raise alarm in cases of suspicious activities involving both children and adults especially because child trafficking is disguised as domestic work. While this is being done, it should be carried out concurrently across the borders and with the neighboring countries to have as many people acting against trafficking.
(ii). Laws and policies created and put to fight against human trafficking should be strictly implemented and also reviewed to ensure that they are in line with current international conventions.
(iii). Unemployment and illiteracy is a major contributing factor to human trafficking and therefore education is very important as well as available jobs for people of standard age. Agencies mediating jobs abroad should be articulately vetted through prohibiting recruitment fees charged to employees to ensure that there is no room for trafficking of persons.
World Day against Trafficking in Persons was established by the United Nations to raise awareness, encourage alertness and gain support for prevention of human trafficking. They have policy to punish human trafficking offenses with the hope to implement this globally, as well as an act to protect victims of trafficking.
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