Children remain vulnerable in Kenya

July 25, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 25 – A child is defined as every human being below the age of 18 years unless under the law applicable to the child.

Having this in mind the question that follows is why then do we subject our children to so much maltreatment?  Under the proposed Constitution whose fate will be known at the August 4 referendum, it is criminal to engage in acts of trafficking in persons.

Trafficking of children is the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring, or receipt of children for the purpose of exploitation.

Children women and even men are targets of this lucrative trade which is now the fastest growing criminal industry in the world. Globally, it is tied with the illegal arms trade, as the second largest criminal activity, following the drug trade.

Focus On Children
Children are the most vulnerable target of this modern-day slavery, and Kenya is fast becoming a transit point for the victims.

I spoke to Tonny Odera Project Manager for Counter Trafficking in Persons at The Cradle who told me it\’s sad that children are trafficked due to diverse reasons and involve both demand and supply factors.

Mr Odera said, "Trafficking in persons in Africa is quite widespread and well orchestrated, involving both individuals and organised groups and predicated on historical and pre colonial migration routes to and from countries within the region and beyond.\’\’

He said children are easy prey since their minds can be easily manipulated by their oppressors. 

The predominance of children as objects of exploitation can be attributed to increasing global demand for cheap labour to fuel industrial or economic growth both within and outside the region.

Mr Odera who recently presented a report on regional anti-trafficking policies and programmes in Africa at The Global Alliance Against Traffic in Women (GAATW) International Members Conference and Congress in Thailand, said despite the fact that it is challenging to obtain reliable data on the magnitude of the problem of human trafficking, available records indicate that hundreds of thousands of people are trafficked annually within and from Africa and about 80 percent of these victims of trafficking are women and girls.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) puts the figure of persons trafficked across international borders annually at close to two million and four million, if one includes domestic trafficking.

The nature of exploitation which has been discovered to occur in Africa, Mr Odera said, include forced prostitution and other forms of sexual exploitation including child marriage, pornography, use of children in armed conflicts, as beggars, as hawkers, on farms, in mines, construction sites, domestic servants, irregular inter-country adoption; in crime; and for illegal organs harvesting, ritual killings or other mystic practices.

In parts of Ghana for example, a family may be punished for an offense by having to turn over a virgin female to serve as a sex slave within the offended family.

With Kenya in the limelight as a transit point for traffickers, Parliament has endorsed the Counter Trafficking in Persons Bill which recommends stiffer penalties against child traffickers and those who drive children into forced labour.

The US Department of State has continued to rank most African countries in Tier 2 meaning Africa does not have proper legal and policy framework to curb human trafficking.

With Kenya waiting for the Counter Trafficking in Persons Bill to be enforced, this is a challenge to other African countries to follow suit and adopt strict ways of curbing this inhuman act.


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