The Cry of Colly, a Kenyan Survivor

Colly was first introduced to a recruitment agent by her friend and she was promised a well-paying job in Dubai. After paying the money that was required to process her travel documents to Dubai, the agent did not get in touch with her again. She was then connected to another agent by the same friend. After recruitment, she went for a two weeks’ training at Syokimau. The agent facilitated her medical checkup and also paid for her ticket to Saudi Arabia.

Upon arrival in Saudi Arabia, she was received by a driver who took her to the Saudi agent’s office. Her employer then came for her and took her to his residence. Afterwards, she was introduced to the family members and she was promised a nice working environment. They allowed her to rest on the first day; before starting to work the following day. During the first month, they treated her nicely but on the second month, her employer (the man) started harassing her sexually. She continually refused to yield to his sexual advances but one day, she was left alone in the house (but with the same man around). The man pointed a gun at her and forcefully raped her. He then forced her to clean the blood that was on the floor. She was threatened not to say anything otherwise; she would be killed. When the rest of the family returned, she requested to be taken to the hospital claiming she was not feeling well. At the hospital, she explained her ordeal at the house but she was told that she could not be assisted without evidence. “I was told that in order to get evidence, I had to go back and be raped again”. She refused to go back with the family and she was taken to the agent’s office. However, the same employer went back for her and took her to the same house where she was beaten thoroughly by the lady of the house. Once again, the man of the house got another opportunity and raped her and made her to go through the same pain and trauma.

“I recorded a video of the rape incident and sent it out to my brother in Kenya who then shared it with my recruitment agency in Kenya and who in turn forwarded the same to the agency in Saudi Arabia but who did not take any action.”  

Afterwards, Colly secretly escaped from the house one evening and returned to the office once more.  Unfortunately, she was locked up in isolation at the office where she was continuously assaulted physically. The office manager in Saudi continued asking her to return to the same employer in order for her to finish the contract. He pushed her to accept and went further to threaten her with death, if she refused.

After some few days, a brother to her former employer went to the office and took her in. She was deceived that the new family had four children only. To her surprise, when she arrived at the house, she was introduced to 26 people who were all family members. She was also given strict rules………. she was not supposed to drink tap water and that she was only meant to eat food left-overs. At one point, she was found drinking tap water and she was beaten up thoroughly. She was also overworked and made to sleep at 4am and wake up at 6am (hardly three hours).

Colly tried calling the Saudi and Kenya offices for help but she was not successful. One day, one of the sons of her employer came to her bedroom and wanted to abuse her sexually. She screamed for help and when the family members came, they all blamed it on her. Her employer was so bitter with her that the following day her food was laced with poison. She was discretely warned by one of the little children after taking a spoon hence, she secretly threw away the rest of the food. She however developed stomach upset immediately. She took pictures of the poisoned food and sent them back home and shortly afterwards, she escaped from the house and went a human rights office from where she was then taken to hospital. After diagnosis, she was informed that her liver had been affected by the poison.

Afterwards, she was taken to court to complain against her employer. All the while, she insisted to be taken back home (Kenya). After reporting to the court, she went back to the office where they tried to get rid of her by burning the room where she was locked in. She was lucky to escape with the help of a guard and she ended up on the streets. On her escape journey, she met a well-wisher from the human rights office and after explaining her situation, he agreed to pay for her ticket alongside other girls from Kenya.

Colly returned back with nothing to show and she is currently not in good terms with her family members after the video which she sent home went viral. She has been living with a male ‘well-wisher’ who has been ‘accommodating’ her since February 2021 (when she arrived back in Kenya). Gaging from the interview discussions, Colly is deeply traumatized and the alleged well-wisher has his full control on her life which is equivalent to secondary level exploitation/enslavement (the feeling of dependency is very high).

Colly continues to suffer severe post-traumatic stress disorder alongside a complex health condition caused by the brutality of the beastly sexual abuse ordeal. She urgently needs both psychiatric and psycho-social support too. She also complains of stomach pains associated with her liver infection occasioned by the attempted food poisoning. Colly has not yet received any tangible medical and livelihood support from CHTEA owing to funding shortage.

We invite  well wishers to make  donations towards this desperate case and others who are still struggling with post exploitation effects. Any amounts of contribution (in any form of currency) would be highly welcome and appreciated. May God bless the work of your hands while giving. You can DONATE here

Migrants in the Arab states sent home over $124 billion in 2017, with UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar all in the top 10.

From beatings to unpaid wages, migrant workers face regular abuse in the Gulf – with hundreds of African workers forcibly deported from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) earlier this year.

Several of the deportees told the Thomson Reuters Foundation that they are struggling back homewith their past obliterated and no papers or money to start over.

Workers from Uganda, Nigeria, and Cameroon said they could not secure backpay, compensation for personal belongings they were barred from retrieving before deportation, or even an official answer on the cause of detention.

Here’s a rundown of the main reasons why it is so hard to secure protection for some 23 million migrants working in the Gulf:

  • Kafala System

The lack of justice for migrants can be traced back to “kafala” sponsorship system that ties a worker’s visa to their employer, seen by rights groups as modern-day slavery. It is used across most of the Gulf, where growing numbers are flocking from East Africa to construction, hospitality, and security jobs.

Many work in unsafe or abusive environments, others suffer restrictions on their movements or communications, and some are jailed or deported – typically for residency violations but sometimes without a declared reason.

“Kafala is at the root of this. It essentially means impunity for abuses against workers,” said Rothna Begum, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch.

If an employer fires a worker or reports them as “absconding”, that employee could face detention and deportation with no access to a lawyer, according to, a Gulf-based advocacy organization for migrant workers.

  • Fear Of Deportation

The risk of being sent home empty-handed makes most workers reluctant to speak up, said Malcolm Bidali, a Kenyan working as a security guard in Qatar until his deportation in August 2021.

“The fear (is) that you might get sent back home, back to all the problems and hardships, that you might not even get justice if you raise your voice,” he said.

Even countries dismantling parts of the kafala system, like Qatar, maintain some restrictions on changing jobs or bans on migrant labour unions, according to the Business and Human Rights Resource Centre, which promotes human rights in business.

  • Undemocratic Regimes

Migrants in the Gulf work under largely undemocratic authorities that do not prioritise civic rights: many are monarchies that do not hold elections and do not tolerate public criticism.

“We’re talking about countries with zero transparency,” said Ali Mohamed, a researcher at 

“How can you do anything when there is no democratic transparent process?”

The ministries of interior or defence often have greater political weight than labour ministries, which means worker issues are frequently resolved through security measures like detentions and deportations.

“In Gulf countries, ‘interior’ is the mother of all ministries. They are under the least pressure to implement any reforms,” said Mohamed.

  • Few Rights Advocates In Country

Major rights organisations, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, do not have a physical presence in most Gulf countries, where they say they would not be able to work freely.

Workers deported from the UAE after June said even Emirati lawyers, they hired had been able to get few answers.

“There’s a hesitancy by local lawyers to take on cases. People who get detained en masse are low-income migrant workers – so lawyers know it’s hard to reverse a ruling of deportation and it won’t pay much,” Mohamed said.

  • No Help From Home

Migrants said their own embassies had not pushed hard enough to get them out of jail or prevent the deportations.

“When you get back home, who will fight for you? No one,” asked Bidali, who has been desperately searching for a job since he was deported to Kenya.

Some countries do act. Ethiopia in 2013 banned its nationals from doing low-skilled jobs in the Middle East following widespread reports of abuse.

But with massive unemployment at home and thousands still finding ways to migrate, it lifted the ban in 2018 after passing a law aimed at better protecting migrant workers.

Bans ultimately fail because recruiting companies can always turn to regions with fewer regulations and even cheaper labour, said Begum, creating “a race to the bottom”.

  • Money Talks

According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), migrants in the Arab states sent home over $124 billion in 2017, with UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Qatar all in the top 10. Money that workers send home from abroad is one of the largest sources of foreign exchange for many countries – vital for trading with the rest of the world.

“This is a power dynamic,” said Begum of Human Rights Watch.

“Countries of origin simply don’t have the same leverage when speaking to host countries, as they are quite reliant on remittances.”


Nestle, Mars and Hershey sued over forced child labour/Child Slavery

According to Freedom United (a pro-survivor African organization), a new lawsuit has been filed against chocolate companies Nestle, Cargill, Hershey, Olam, Mars, Mondelez and Barry Callebaut over allegations that they benefitted from cheap cocoa harvested by forced child labour. This is the latest action in a long legal battle for justice in U.S. courts.

Allegations of forced labour against chocolate companies

The suit, filed in Washington DC, was brought by eight Malian citizens who say they were trafficked as children to work on cocoa plantations in Cote D’Ivoire. They allege that the seven companies formed a “venture to allow them to continue benefiting from cheap cocoa harvested by forced child labour.” Cote D’Ivoire produces 40% of the world’s cocoa and a 2020 study by the University of Chicago found that 1.56 million children are harvesting cocoa, primarily in Cote D’Ivoire and Ghana.

The Independent newspaper (UK) reports

Court papers filed last month allege that the plaintiffs, all of whom were under 16 at the time of their recruitment, “were trafficked from Mali and forced to work on cocoa plantations in Cote D’Ivoire that supplied to defendants. Legal documents describe the workers being constantly bitten by insects, wounded from machete accidents, and some working for years without being paid. The case is being brought under the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorisation Act (TVPRA) of 2017. This act includes a “should have known” negligence standard, which means organizations can be held accountable for trafficking if it can be shown that they should have known that abuse was occurring, even if they did not directly know about it.

The lawyer who is bringing the civil action, Terence Collingsworth from International Rights Advocates, says “These companies are running a war on two fronts. They are telling the public; we’re working with cocoa farmers, we are giving them schooling and money, we’ve got this under control.” “Then they stand up in court and say we’re just buying chocolate; we don’t have anything to do with what’s going on there. In their most recent filing, they say they are no different from a consumer of a chocolate bar.”

Chocolate companies’ response

The chocolate companies refute any wrongdoing, saying they have zero tolerance for forced labour in their supply chains. Mars declined to comment on the lawsuit but said “child or forced labour has no place in the cocoa supply chain” and noted their efforts to “address the root causes of this complex issue.” A spokesperson from Barry Callebaut said: “The lawsuit brought forward by International Rights Advocates concerns the rare practice of trafficking children to work on farms, which the Ivorian and Ghanaian governments, together with industry, are actively combating. Barry Callebaut disputes the allegations in this lawsuit.”

The companies were expected to file their response to the lawsuit claims by November 19, 2021.


Real stories: The Growing abuse of Children through uncensored internet

Internet facilitates a vast plethora of virtual movements across borders & global destinations. 20,000 new porn images are posted on the net each week, these can be downloaded on most smart phones. (“PORNLAND” by Gail Dines, 2010, Beacon Press, Boston). According to Gail, “The internet has hijacked our Sexuality and distorted its true meaning”. Addiction to porn is dangerous to the individual (on average, males start @ 11 years old) & is extremely difficult to eradicate it. The image is literally engraved on the frontal lobe of the brain.  Each sexual encounter thereafter is viewed through this lens. The sex industry is the largest purveyor of profound damage to minds, bodies, emotions & the human spirit, to exploit the most vulnerable. COVID-19 has not slowed traffickers down. Rather it has helped them utilize alternative methods. On 30thMay 2020, the Anti-Human Trafficking and Child Protection Unit (DCI – AHTCPU) raised a red flag over the alarming and sudden spike in online human trafficking, recruitment and exploitation of children in Kenya, with concerns that the trend will continue for as long as children are at home and online – “the dusk to dawn curfew and cessation of movement, intelligence reports reveal that human traffickers are capitalizing on the online platform to recruit, groom and exploit children and lure adults feeling the pinch of the emaciated economy as a result of COVID-19”

In July 2020 (Covid-19 peak period), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), Regional Advisor Rachel Harvey estimated that a third of internet users were children (below 18 years) with internet usage increasing by half (50%) following the stay-home orders adopted by most countries to help suppress the spread of COVID-19.

Any Kenyan (youth or adult) who is exposed to poverty and other vagaries of nature during this Covid=19 period was and still remains at a high risk of exploitation. Even so, girls and women constitute the higher percentage as they are easily lured into sexual exploitation by human traffickers who promise them better jobs but find themselves locked in brothels or other services and accommodation where they can neither leave voluntarily nor escape.

Below, we have two cases of minors who were extremely exploited in the US [courtesy, The National Center on Sexual Exploitation (NCOSE)] but their stories are synonymous with any youth in Africa who has exposure to uncensored online adventure.

A 13year girl was abused and exploited on Instagram in her own home. It could have been prevented.

Maria* was 13 years old when she first got Instagram on her cell-phone. She had her parent’s permission because Instagram is rated as appropriate for “Ages 12+.”

She loved sharing photos as well as “liking” and commenting on her friend’s images. She mostly posted about being in Girl Scouts, babysitting her younger brother, and going to the lake with her friends. That’s when strange men started reaching out to her in direct messages.

She mostly ignored them. But, one day, a direct message came in from someone who looked young and cute in his profile picture and who said he went to the school in the neighboring town. Maria accepted his direct message request and the two began exchanging pleasantries back and forth every day.

He was interested in learning everything about her, which was flattering, and he soon asked her to be his “girlfriend.” Even though she’d never met him in real life, she agreed because he made her feel loved.

It was shortly after that when he started soliciting her to send him sexually explicit images. At first Maria said no, but he kept asking and began making her feel guilty for saying no. Eventually she relented and sent him some sexually explicit images of herself. And that day changed everything.

Instagram, the social media app that Maria had been so excited to use and share with her friends, became her virtual prison!  You see, this “young and cute boy” to whom Maria had sent her sexually explicit images was not a boy at all. He was an adult man who promptly used these graphic photos to blackmail Maria. He threatened to send Maria’s sexually explicit photos to her parents and to all her classmates if she didn’t have sex with him and then with others. Maria felt trapped. Before she knew it, she was a victim of sex trafficking and was being sold to one stranger after another.

This went on for three months, while she was still living in her parent’s home, until she finally gathered the courage to tell someone and get help. How much is a childhood free from sex trafficking and pornography worth to you and your family?  We know you care deeply about girls like Maria. No child should ever go through that trauma.

And because we know that you care, we are asking you to link arms with us to prevent this kind of exploitation from befalling the countless other girls and boys out there who are being targeted, groomed, and abused on social media at this very moment.

Right now, law enforcement only has the capacity to rescue a few children at a time and safe houses have a limited number of beds to help those children recover. Meanwhile exploiters have nearly limitless access to children through social media apps, and therefore abuse more girls like Maria than we’ll ever know.

Young boy was groomed for sex trafficking via an online video game

You’ve heard the tragic stories of men, women, and children who have been abused and harmed by the current culture of rampant sexual exploitation. But did you know that in uncertain and confusing times, such as the COVID-19 pandemic gripping our nation and the larger global community, the threat of exploitation looms even larger?

We recently heard a tragic story of a young boy who we will call Leo*. That is not his real name but he and his story are very real. Leo was just 16-years-old when he was groomed and trafficked through what seemed like an innocent online video game platform, one used by millions of American children. He wanted to connect with other players, and when the man who reached out to him acted like his friend, it seemed to both Leo and his parents to be just another way to talk to friends on the Internet.

But the reality was far worse! Men like Leo’s trafficker use and abuse mainstream platforms with children, like video games and social media platforms, in order to locate and abuse vulnerable victims.

When Leo decided to meet up with his online “friend,” traveling across state lines, he was shocked to discover the person on the other side of the screen was no friend, but rather a group of seven grown men who proceeded to traffic and sexually exploit the young boy.

Leo was used as a sex slave for over a year, trapped in a filthy trailer while his traffickers spent their time trying to lure other victims. It wasn’t until another 17-year-old boy arrived, also groomed and lured through the video game platform, that Leo was finally released from his prison. The men were arrested for sex trafficking, but Leo’s life has been scarred forever from his experience.

It’s no secret or surprise that stories like Leo’s are happening all across Africa too. Our child protection projects urgently need funding right now not only because we are running short of cash, as importantly, because these projects are gaining so much momentum. We are a grassroots non-profit organization that relies on passionate advocates like you to help us change the narrative of the online sexual abuses of our children for their success by convincing them to beef up their child-protection measures.

Every amount can be used to make a big difference right now. We’ll turn your monthly donation, whatever you can afford, into advocacy with legislators and corporate executives as well as a means for getting crucial information and resources into the hands of parents so they can protect their children through our robust school awareness programme.

With children online more than ever during this period of social isolation and distance, the threat of online sexual exploitation is more pressing now than ever.

*Names changed to protect the innocent children