In an effort to understand why girls are increasingly being targeted for human trafficking in East Africa, CHTEA was able to reach out to a specialist based in the US. Dr Celia, as she is known, has worked with many young people (both Migrants, Caucasian, Black and White) for many years to try and unravel the mystery surrounding girls’ perceived appetite for being trafficked. In her in-depth study, Celia realized that young girls consider themselves to be misunderstood and more times lacking role models in their families, among other factors. In her own words, Dr Celia narrates her experience as follows:
“I remember interviewing trafficked girls and at the end of each interview, I would always ask them to share with me some information on what they would like me to pass along to the adults that are trying to help young people like them. Most of their comments were gathered around three areas:
- Tell the adults to keep me busy and positive
- Tell the adults we want to be loved, so show us love
- Tell the adults to help us before we get caught up in it
Soooo as promised, I’m delivering the message to you. The question I have for you is: “What will you do to keep at-risk youth busy and positive? What are you doing to show youth at-risk genuine and positive love? What are you doing to help them before they become victims?
The best way to help girls before they are “caught up” in it is to get them involved in effective prevention now”.
The above excerpt is a testimony for similar trends in East Africa. For example, while the Karamoja girls from Uganda have earned the face of child trafficking in East Africa, it is more about the girl-child’s vulnerability status. Having moved out of their homes at the Karamoja region in North Eastern Uganda, the Karamojong girls find themselves in one of the most complicated girl trafficking rings in the East African region. The plight of most of these girls remains unknown even as their parents sell and release them to strangers who promise good tidings once the girls take up “well-paying jobs” in Nairobi or Kampala.
At the heart of this trafficking web, is a well-nourished and oiled network of actors who range from family members, friends, neighbours, strangers, religious leaders up to State Security and Immigration agents at border points and along the route. All actors stationed at different points of the ring stand to benefit from this very secretive and discrete illegal human trade.
In a recent documentary prepared by CHTEA, a group of 3 Karamojong girls are seen being escorted from a delivery point in Nairobi’s Kamukunji area through the densely populated slums of Majengo, Shauri Moyo, Pangani and into the Eastleigh estate which is a predominantly ethnic Somali habitat (both local and foreigners). The three girls in the video were tracked down at dawn by a CHTEA camera man and a resident of the Majengo slum. The video footage clearly identifies a hijab dressed woman of Somali descent walking ahead of the girls. Ahead of the woman is a pair of white Muslim “kanzu” wearing men of Somali descent too. A normal observer may not make sense of any relationship as the two men keep walking ahead while chatting until they arrive at the point of delivery where they signal the hijab dressed woman before they proceed. The two men are the security for both the lady and the girls. The lady then leads the three girls into an apartment where they are presumably received and distributed to their would be masters. Both the lady and the two men are part of the extensive network of collaborators in one of the most lucrative criminal enterprises of the modern times.
The key lesson from this video clip is that human trafficking happens in our daily lives even as people engage in the most obvious activities and undertakings of life. It therefore behooves every human being to be aware of the realities and the existence of the underworld……looking beyond the naked eye.
The lives of these 3 girls undoubtedly took a new turn for an uncertain future as they embarked on a totally new life where their masters take full control and manipulate their destiny from that early age. It is incredibly unbelievable that all these activities take place in the full view of the public even as traffickers build formidable avenues to operate undeterred.