The Global Slavery Index of 2016 estimates that 45.8 million people are in form of Modern Slavery (MS) in 167 countries. The highest prevalence of MS being in North Korea (1.1 million), Uzbekistan (1.23 million), Cambodia (256,800), India (18.4 million) and Qatar (30,300). This ranking is in proportion to the countries’ populations. In Africa, the practice is more pronounced in the following five countries: Democratic Republic of Congo (0.8 million), Sudan (0.5 million), South Sudan (0.14 million), Somalia (0.12 million) and Libya (0.07 million). Closer home, the East African ranking is led by South Sudan, Rwanda (0.07), Burundi (0.07), Tanzania (0.3 million) Uganda (0.2 million) and Kenya (0.18 million).
Countries with the lowest prevalence of modern slavery include: Luxemburg, Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, Austria, Sweden, Belgium, USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand. All these countries manifest strong economic wealth, low conflict levels and political stability with the willingness to combat modern slavery.
From the foregoing statistics, modern slavery is a growing global concern and the momentum is projected to be increasing in Eastern Africa from countries like Ethiopia, Somalia, Eritrea and Kenya. The trend is mainly disguised as a search for better job opportunities and quality of life. In Kenya for example, the latest trend of human trafficking is hinged on the high level of unemployment for all cadres of education and the deteriorating economic fortunes due to a myriad of factors, key among them being economic mismanagement and corruption.
On 15 November 2000, the United Nations General Assembly adopted the United Nations Convention Against Organized Crime, which came into force on 23 September 2003. To supplement the Convention, the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children, also known as the “Palermo Protocol,” was adopted. The Palermo Protocol defines “Trafficking in Persons” as: “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving of payments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control of another person, for the purpose of exploitation. Exploitation shall include, at a minimum, the exploitation of the prostitution of others or other forms of sexual exploitation, forced labour or services, slavery or practices similar to slavery, servitude or the removal of organs.” The Palermo Protocol further specifies that the use of any of the means described above renders any consent on the part of the victim irrelevant, and that the recruitment, transportation, harbouring or receipt of a child for the purposes of exploitation shall be considered “trafficking in persons” even if none of the means described are employed
Kenya is considered to be a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Kenyan women are reported to be subjected to forced prostitution in Thailand by Ugandan and Nigerian traffickers while the growing employment agencies for Middle East countries expose some of the Kenyan women to untold suffering in respect of prostitution, forced labor, gender based violence, killings and murders, maiming, confiscation of travel documents and starvation; among others.