Research Summary, ‘Trafficking in Persons in the Diocese of Machakos’

A research finding on human trafficking, conducted by Radoslaw Malinowski in conjunction with the Catholic Diocese of Machakos

By Mary Aloo

Human trafficking is modern day slavery that ruins the integrity of peopleand weakens the rule of law, human security and human right standards. Unfortunately not many people are aware of this problem. We shall present the finding from Machakos Diocese which is in the Eastern part of Kenya. The research was carried out by HAART’s director, Radoslaw Malinowski, who was hired as a consultant by the Diocese of Machakos.

During interaction with the local people, the study realized that about two thirds had experienced human trafficking up to three times within a six-monthperiod. This shows that the issue is real and affecting people at the grass root level. However, we also take into account that the people may not be fully aware of when trafficking occurs as it is hidden in many cases within a criminal act.

Evidence indicates that human trafficking flows from rural areas to towns, between towns and from one rural area to another. Among those that the study encountered, about half of the people shared that human trafficking starts mainly in rural areas and ends in towns.

From the reality on the ground it is evident that rural areas are the primary targets, followed by urban areas. Therefore in order to find a long term solution, counter trafficking prevention programs need to take place in rural areas where the population is most at risk.

There is also cross border trafficking (where the victims travel outside Kenya) and domestic trafficking (where victims remain in Kenya). The service providers have a responsibility to reach out to victims who are abused locally rather than attending only to those who have been trafficked abroad.

The research also showed that hardly foreigners are seen in Machakos Diocese. Therefore the majority of traffickers are Kenyans who are mostly female and in some cases male.

The Traffickers are familiar to the victims and their families and a majority acts as rich or middle class members of the society. They are sometimes involved in a criminal network, business, job agencies, or to a lesser extent truck drivers. The most affected victims are women and girls, with somemen and boys also affected.
It is important to note that the popular means to recruit victims is through deception and the family usually plays an active role of pushing the victim into the trafficking trap with the aim of receiving financial benefits.

The issue of trafficking from rural areas to town was seen in a case of a 19 year old female victim. She was promised a job in Mombasa, but on arrival she disagreed with her potential employer and she decided to return to her rural home. Since she had no fare, a truck driver offered her a lift. It got dark before reaching their destination and they agreed to spend the night at Mtito Andei which is a small town between Mombasa and Nairobi. Unfortunately both the driver and conductor took turns in raping her. She was too scared to shout for help and even though people in the nearby shops heard her sobs in the truck they did not interfere. The following morning she had no option but to continue the journey with the same driver and conductor. This is just one of the many cases that we encountered during the whole process of research.

The findings also revealed some of the underlying causes of human trafficking in rural and urban areas in the Catholic Diocese as follows:

  1. Insufficient (weak) rule of law: There is a lack of counter human trafficking policy and inefficient response from law enforcement bodies. Lack of awareness among the law agencies and the increasing presence of criminal groups are some of the demand factors.
  2. Rapid socio-cultural change: Lack of knowledge about the outside world creates curiosity for many vulnerable persons to fall victim of human trafficking.
  3. Shift in risk management: Poverty and greed makes family members collaborate with traffickers to get money. AIDS has left many orphans who are easily deceived and promised a better lifestyle either in Kenyan towns or abroad.
  4. Commercialization of human life: There is a lack of perspectives for the future. Women and girls are mostly seen as sexual objects. Since the system has no mechanism of checks and balances, there is room for corruption. The moral code is lacking and this makes the situation complex.
  5. Socio-economic factors: Poverty and unemployment makes people easily accept job offers . There seems to be lack of awareness of issues to do with human trafficking.

Measures the Catholic Diocese of Machakos can put in place to eradicate human trafficking 

  • Establish collaboration with other civil society organizations that will assist the Diocese in counter trafficking work.
  • Create general awareness on human trafficking and employment laws.
  • Provide victims with assistance such as socio-economic, psychological, legal and medical aid.
  • Organize a more sustainable income generating projects for victims and persons vulnerable to human trafficking.
  • Make use of the organized small Christian communities who already know each other well. Train them on how to raise awareness at the grass root level and how to identify and report human trafficking cases.

Click here to download the research paper ‘Human trafficking in the diocese of Machakos’