World Day Against Human Trafficking 2023.

R-L Cabinet Secretary, Florence Bore and Permanent Secretary, Joseph Motari launching the National Plan of Action in Combatting Trafficking In Persons; 2022-2027

The annual World Day Against Human Trafficking (30th July) is globally commemorated to raise awareness and share new developments about Trafficking in Persons and support to the victims/survivors. This year’s theme was, ‘Reach out to every Victim, Leave No One behind’. In Kenya, the event was held on 28th July at the Sarova Stanley Hotel in Nairobi. The event was punctuated with speeches and survivor voices were amplified in the presence of a huge audience led by the Cabinet Secretary (CS) from the Ministry of Labour and Social Protection and representatives from the UN Agencies led by the UNODC, IOM/UN Migration, and Civil Society Organisations (both national and international) among others to mark the event.

The event was graced by Hon. Florence Bore, the Cabinet Secretary Ministry of Labour and Social Protection who was the chief guest assisted by the Principal Secretary (PS), Mr. Joseph Motari;,among other dignitaries.

On the day’s program, there were other stakeholder representatives who made their speeches highlighting the need for Civil Society to coordinate their efforts and work together towards combating human trafficking and developing victim-centered programs to support the Victims and survivors. Most speeches also emphasized on the need for victims and survivors to embrace psychosocial support and appeals for the society to accept the survivors for complete reintegration.

One of the survivors, a returnee from Lebanon, Ms. Mercy Njeru who was representing the survivors made a presentation and encouraged the government and other stakeholders to invest more in the National Assistance Fund to assist more victims, offer them psychosocial support and also further urged the government to ensure the service providers at the Kenyan embassies in the gulf region are well trained and equipped to support the victims of trafficking in distress when they visit their offices

L-R Sr Florence, Member of Counter Trafficking in Persons (CTIP) Advisory Committee and Board member at CHTEA, PS Motari, CS Bore, Ms Veronica -Chair, CTIP Advisory Committee and other CTIP Advisory committee members posing for a group photo during the WDAHT, 2023 Commemoration at the Sarova Stanley Hotel, Nairobi.

The Cabinet Secretary delivered her speech which emphasized on the significance of the day. She highlighted Kenya's commitment to combating trafficking in persons and further noted that Kenya had been identified as a country of origin, transit and destination for human trafficking. She noted that the country was affected by trafficking in persons; with labor and sexual exploitation being the most prevalent forms. She also mentioned that the government had taken several measures to address the vice such as ratifying the UN Palermo Protocol and establishing the Counter Trafficking in Persons Advisory Committee and the National Assistance Trust Fund for Victims of Trafficking. On his part, Mr Joseph Motari, the Principal Secretary stressed the importance of a multi-sectoral approach to tackle trafficking while focusing on prevention, protection, prosecution, and partnerships. The State Department for Labor and Social Protection later launched the National Plan of Action to Combat Trafficking in Persons; 2022-2027, which outlines strategies for comprehensive victim-centered support. After the launch, the CS held a press briefing and everyone walked to the market place where CSOs got an opportunity to showcase their activities, efforts and projects in combating Human Trafficking to the attendees.

On her part, while marking the WDAHT, CHTEA in collaboration with the media carried out several interviews as build up activities highlighting the challenges faced by victims/survivors and to make a call to the government and relevant stakeholders to have victim-centered and inclusive programs to support them.

Here are the interviews conducted, click the links to view.

  1. Kenya's Pastor 'miracle baby' acquitted - also features CHTEA interview with Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) Media
  2. Stop Human Trafficking - also features CHTEA interview with Voice Of America

In line with creating awareness on Human Trafficking and highlighting changes in eliminating modern slavery, Mr Mutuku, CEO Counter Human Trafficking Trust was interviewed by People Daily and this what his contribution was in regards to breaking taboo around human trafficking crime..


Survivor Story : Greener pastures turned dry.

Everyone wishes for a good life for their family and children and when an opportunity for greener pasture comes about, we all run quick for it. This was the case with Mary (not her real name).

Mary is a single mother of four boys aged 16, 12, 9 and 6 years, living with her grandmother but was facing a lot of challenges, she had lost her job and the occasional ‘mama fua’ jobs were not enough to cater for her daily needs. She sought advice from her aunt who introduced her to a recruiting agent. She travelled with the aunt from her rural home to Nairobi to meet the agent and then she went for a two weeks’ training at Githurai. The agent assisted her to get travel documents and in no time she was ready to travel to Saudi Arabia.

When Mary arrived in Saudi Arabia, she was received by her employer at the airport and she was taken to the residence where she was employed as a domestic worker. The family consisted of five members including three sons of the employer. She was introduced to the family and later given instructions to abide by. After one month, the employer who was the lady travelled unexpectedly.

Mary was left alone with the three sons of the man of the house who started harassing her sexually. “I was sexually assaulted and physically abused by the three men for a period of nine months. At one point, I was seriously beaten up and left for the dead for not giving in to their demands. I could not even pick myself up from where they had left lying for five days,” lamented Mary.

When the men realised that she could not to stand still by herself, they decided to throw her out of the house, a far distance from the gate. Mary was later picked up from the roadside by a good Samaritan who helped her get to nearest Red Cross office. The Red Cross took her to their shelter where she found other girls who had been rescued too. She stayed there for two months before she was later escorted to the airport alongside 6 other Kenyan girls. Mary says she that could not even tell who paid for her ticket but happy that it was by God’s grace that she was rescued. Mary and the other 6 girls were given some little money to use for their onward transport costs home after arriving in Kenya.

When Mary arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, she took a bus to Thika and upon arrival, she lost her consciousness and was rushed to Thika level 5 hospital. Mary was admitted at the hospital for one month and she was later discharged.

CHTEA supported Mary with medical support and psycho-social support since she had suffered severe post-traumatic stress disorder and due to the extreme physical abuse that she got in Saudi Arabia. Mary sustained a broken limb. CHTEA also supported her to start up her hair dressing business (salon) since she was already a skilled hairdresser.

We are happy through the economic empowerment program; Mary can now financially support her children and her family at large.

Stigma: The Case of rejection.

‘It was not easy, starting all over again. It was not easy then, but I have overcome things like that. All is not well, but I am proud of the progress I have made and knowing I can support my son.’

Prisca * starts her day at 4am every day. She prepares her children for school and herself for the day. At 4.30am, she is picked up by her driver of public transport in Nairobi (“matatu” – mini bus). She starts calling people to board the matatu from South B to Nairobi town. She gets to town and joins the other matatus waiting in line to take passengers back to South B. This goes on until 11pm at night when she goes to rest and prepare for the following day.

Before Prisca became a matatu tout, she was determined to leave the country for the gulf countries to seek for greener pastures. She met an ‘agent’ through her aunt who promised to help her get a well-paying administrator job in Saudi Arabia. She didn’t have any travel documents but the agent assisted her get her passport and visa and in less than 2 weeks. She was ready to travel. It was the first time for Prisca to travel by an aeroplane. She arrived late at the airport which angered the agent, who threw the documents at her and drove off. An airport attendant seeing her in despair, guided her through the airport process. She boarded the plane and was finally in Saudi Arabia. She was picked up by her employer at the airport. Before leaving the airport, she had to go through medical tests and the same tests were repeated at her employer’s place. Working in Saudi for her was a real challenge as she worked for long working hours with little or no food for days. She was physically and verbally abused. Amidst all this, Prisca was able to save some money ‘under her mattress’ since was told that the banking policy in Saudi Arabia did not support opening a bank account for foreigners.

After working for 2 years, Prisca couldn’t take the harassment any more. Seeing her life in danger, she escaped and went to the Kenyan embassy who helped her get a ticket for her trip back to Kenya. On arrival at the airport, none of her family members came to pick her up. Upon arriving home, no one was happy to see her back. Her siblings and parents were angry at her and kept asking her why she had come back empty handed. The whole neighborhood resented her. This adversely affected her psychologically especially after realizing that the people who are supposed to be her safe space were rejecting her.

Sadly, this is what most victims of trafficking in persons go through when they are confronted by a hostile environment. The societal stigma makes reintegration with family a tricky issue. Survivors continue to suffer from trauma of being disowned by their family and society for failing to return with the promised life changing fortunes (some of it meant to refund borrowed funds). This in the end makes them vulnerable of re-trafficking.

In most cases, families of the victims of human trafficking have no or limited knowledge about human trafficking and the risks abound. This therefore makes it difficult for them to understand the victims’ challenges. Victims go through many challenges in the hands of their former employers such starvation, long working hours, verbal, physical and sexual assault, murder threats and at the end of the month their salary is not paid.

While dealing with victims of human trafficking, the least they need is our collective support so that they can feel valued and loved by their closest kin. Their safe spaces including their families are of cardinal importance if long term healing is to take place. Access to psychosocial support, economic empowerment and medical care (if need be) is of essence. So, the next time someone comes back to the country while in distress, do not despise them, but instead be empathetic with them, be ready to support them. They are humans too, let us join hands to restore and preserve their dignity.