Children’s manual on human trafficking launched for first time in Kenya; Collaboration between 16 international and national partners.
- Children most vulnerable to internal, domestic trafficking like child marriage and house help
- Pre-testing phase undertaken in children’s shelter with abused children
- Human trafficking – or modern-day slavery – is the second biggest criminal enterprise in the world, affecting 35 million people in the world each year.
Wednesday, May 18 – A Kenyan-first human trafficking manual aimed at school children, developed in partnership with local, governmental and international agencies, has undergone its first stage of pre-testing.
After one year, the Combating Child Trafficking Manual, developed primarily by lead agency Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART Kenya), has been shared with children for the first time.
Last week, HAART staff visited an undisclosed Nairobi shelter for vulnerable girls aged between seven and 17. HAART hosted a number of different sessions aimed at informing children of the little-understood phenomenon of human trafficking – the second biggest criminal enterprise in the world, according to the US State Department.
Children from a Nairobi abuse shelter, the first in the country to be introduced to a human-trafficking manual and education sessions, participate in art activities exploring their feelings and vulnerability to trafficking.
While there are no specific figures inside Kenya, HAART estimates thousands of men, women and children are trafficked inside and outside the country each year. Worldwide, 35 million people are trafficked each year, according to Global Slavery Index figures from 2014.
Human traffickers, who find victims for the purposes of sexual exploitation, forced labour or organ trafficking, primarily target those with limited education and economic empowerment. Human trafficking involves deception, movement and exploitation of victims, and common stories relate to victims who have been promised jobs in the Middle East and arrive to find themselves forced into prostitution for little or no pay. However, human trafficking is just as common inside the country and unfortunately children are mainly the victims of internal trafficking.
The sessions, aimed at educating these young children who are particularly vulnerable to the clutches of human traffickers, included art activities and discussions.
HAART project consultant Sophie Otiende says the time is right to introduce awareness education on human trafficking to Kenya’s children. Lack of awareness is the main reason that children face trafficking and undergo multiple abuses, with abused, impoverished and underprivileged children particular targets.
“Children are one of the most vulnerable groups when it comes to trafficking and there’s an appalling lack of awareness that ensures the chain of trafficking continues. Most children end up being trafficked into forced labour, such as house help. Early marriage is another form of child trafficking, but a cultural acceptance of these behaviours makes it hard to implement real generational change.”
Almost all the girls at the shelter had undergone some form of sexual abuse and multiple forms of exploitation, some of which falls under the umbrella of human trafficking.
During the day, the children were asked to write down a list of their needs on a sheet of paper. These needs included freedom, housing and a career. Children were also asked to draw a face showing the emotion they felt. The majority of children drew faces of a person crying, followed by anger, sadness and surprise. The least common face depicted showed a person laughing.
“It is devastating to see these young children already displaying the deleterious effects of exploitation. Our hope is we can get to these youngsters early, in an effort to stop further abuse before it happens.”
It is hoped this manual will become an effective grassroots tool in creating a generational change and preventing exploitation before it takes place.
The United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime have been a major partner for HAART in the development of this manual. UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa representative José Vila del Castillo says the HAART manual will be a great asset in raising awareness of human trafficking amongst potential child victims.
“As the custodian of the United Nations Convention on Transnational Organized Crime and its supplementary Protocols, especially the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons, UNODC seeks to assist member States to effectively prevent, investigate and prosecute acts of human trafficking and to protect and support victims of trafficking.
“Trafficking in persons results in serious human rights violations and is often linked to other forms of organized crime such as drug trafficking and money laundering.”
Del Castillo says public awareness can be a “great tool” to counter human trafficking.
“UNODC Regional Office for Eastern Africa is fully supportive of civil society efforts to raise awareness on human trafficking and the dangers that this crime poses to unsuspecting victims – especially children. It is paramount that school children understand the potential dangers of the crime as well as the various ways in which criminals may recruit potential victims, among others, through luring proposals and promises of work and travel opportunities. HAART’s teacher manual will greatly assist in making children aware of the potential dangers as well as available assistance to victims and potential victims of human trafficking.”
Another instrumental organisation that has aided in the creation and refinement of the Combating Child Trafficking Manual is the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR), whose sole mandate is ensuring the promotion and protection of human rights in Kenya.
KNCHR Chairperson commissioner Kagwiria Mbogori warmly welcomes the progress being made.
“The Commission takes cognizance that human trafficking is not only a transnational crime but constitutes a violation of human rights, due to its impact on the survivor, society and the State at large. As guardians of personal liberties, KNCHR seeks to uphold human rights by: informing policy changes and interventions which will allow adequate awareness creation to the public and duty bearers on the need to combat human trafficking; and advocating for adequate protection for the survivors and an expeditious prosecution of the perpetrators.”
“KNCHR welcomes the achievement by Awareness against Human Trafficking (HAART) who have taken time to develop and launch the manual. It will be a resource that will guide and streamline the empowerment strategy while teaching children how to combat human trafficking as a prevention measure in line with the Kenya’s National Plan of Action for combating human trafficking. KNCHR is proud to partner with HAART in this endeavour, even as we promote human rights in Kenya by ensuring consistency in our contribution as a member of the National Advisory Committee on combating human trafficking.”
HAART Director Radoslaw Malinowski: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNODC Communications Sohaila Hussein: email@example.com
Commission Secretary/CEO Patricia Nyaundi: firstname.lastname@example.org
HAART is Kenya’s only dedicated human-trafficking NGO, working with victims of sexual exploitation, forced labour and organ trafficking. HAART, started by a group of lawyers and humanitarians seven years ago, coordinates rescues; provides workshops inside communities; liaises with government and partner organisations on matters of training and rescue; and provides counseling, employment and education opportunities for victims once they are ready for rehabilitation. HAART is currently trying to raise funds to build a shelter specifically for trafficking victims.