Human trafficking: I dreamed of a better life (1)

Lives Ruined

For victims who have faced physical and psychological torture, repatriation does not end the emotional trauma. Returning to Kenya with no money, Njeri felt ashamed at the prospect of having disappointed her family. Frustrated and disheartened she contemplated suicide. Protection, rehabilitation into society and prosecution where possible, form a crucial element of the counter trafficking programme, highlights Alice. The unfortunate reality however, is that Kenya currently lacks adequate shelter facilities for victims. Whilst the IOM does work with private charities and faith based organisations to shelter women, few facilities assist young men.

The facilities and resources for justice for children caught up in trafficking are even more dire.  The post-election crisis of 2007 has created the perfect condition for traffickers to take advantage of those orphaned. Child labour amongst Naivasha’s flower farms has hit alarmingly high levels, where many young girls are taken to work as cheap labour, then used by male workers for sex or as concubines.

Sofia Rajad, Project Manager for CRADLE, an NGO that specifically addresses the
gap in the Kenyan juvenile justice system, notes that there is significant pressure on capacity in the few child shelters around the country. There is the constant strain to keep shelter stays as short as possible so as to accommodate the many victims.

Yet, there is concerted effort to ensure that victims go through the entire legal process,
which can often be very lengthy. It is a struggle balancing the two. Sofia has seen many
worst-case scenarios, where child victims are committed to remand homes for lack of
a better alternative. Although much of CRADLE’s work is made possible from generous
funding, most overseas donors are hesitant to set up and get involved in the running of a
shelter. And rightly so; as a progressive community the onus should lie on Kenyans to look out for the future generation.

At present there does not exist a specialised centre that facilitates all the needs of trafficked children from a medical, psychological and legal perspective, notes Sofia.
The need to develop such amenities has become much more a necessity than previously.
In recent months, countless children from neighbouring Tanzania and Uganda have been
lured by trustworthy relatives into begging and hard labour, under the falsehood of a better
education. There have been numerous cases where kids end up in Nairobi, Nakuru or even Naivasha working against their will. A campaign to halt child labour in the agricultural sector by the Solidarity Centre and the Kenyan Plantation Union aims at directly targeting parents to keep their children in school through an incentivised programme, awareness workshops and working directly with farms to ensure that their workplace policies do not become a conduit for child labour.

“I dreamed of a better life” continues tomorrow with What Can Be Done…

Originally published by Destination Magazine

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