Virtue has a voice, and sometimes it starts with one; Fatuma’s Voice. The other evening, I attended a function organized by Fatuma’s Voice at PAWA254 under the auspices of HAART and a host of other partners. The topic of discussion was human trafficking and associated crimes. I learnt much, and notably that there is a difference between human trafficking and human smuggling. That Kenya itself is a country of origin, transit and destination of trafficked persons. It got me thinking more on how the world is heaving under the weight of its own vices, and why no one seems to want to talk about it, more often. We live in a society so wounded for so long, it has become accustomed to shame of its pervasions, to even try to remedy it.
Just the other week end of September one of the local dailies run a story of Mercy*, a young girl who committed suicide after a person she met online and got into a sexual relationship with threatened to expose on the web nude photos he took of her. The motive behind the threat is unknown at this point but we can speculate that Mercy blamed herself for this outcome, so much she could not live with herself, an opinion shared with many who commented on the post. What does this tell you? That most of those people would probably go down the same road Mercy did, if they were to find themselves in Mercy’s shoes.
And then there was another lady who stood for long in these endless queues prevalent in government offices she ended up fainting right there on the floor. Guess what happened; no one lifted a finger! Not even wanting to know what to do with her. Until she came to and got herself out of there. Go figure that.
Why are we so cold to human suffering? We are the only species in the creation kingdom that relish annihilating their own kind, not for food or survival, but for vanity. In relation to last weekend’s event, I learned human trafficking has so many faces, including kidnap for ransom, rape, pedophilia, child sex prostitution, harvesting body organs, sex trafficking of kin to capitalize on their lesser bargaining position, et cetera. How that is progressive beats all logic.
Wolves of Red-Street
What factors could be fueling increase in such vices happening?
Poverty is cited as the number one reason why people find themselves lured by the promise of glitz and riches of the unknown. Many young people ending up in Middle East find themselves forced into sexual slavery and forced labour by their masters or working for a pittance.
But there could be another angle. What if the on-going waves of economic collapse in different parts of the world is creating motives for bad people with good money to exploit the lack of opportunities for others? Money is their means to an end, right?
All of a sudden the liberation that the West packaged for Arab Spring had become a powder cage extending the whole region of Sahel, setting ablaze Timbuktu to Tigris and whatever is caught up in between. Suddenly, humanity is being displaced by the millions. The waters of Mediterranean and Aegean are so agitated by a bloodbath created by sub-human-shark-smugglers and traffickers who are making such a frothy killing as would put Silk Road to shame. People are smuggling people for profit; to satisfy perverted idiosyncrasies of pedophiles, brothels and gentlemen’s salons, escort services, modern-day slavery, you name it.
To effect this massive movement of humanity of unprecedented proportions in human history, the complex elements of coercion, manipulation, fraud, physical as well as emotional abuse, all come into play in the world wide web. Today it is something you are reading about on the internet. Tomorrow it will be someone you know. Who among Laura Imali’s friend she would end up being a sex slave to a stranger she fell in love with after hooking up on Tagged? We meet strangers every day in the streets, some we end up marrying and building happy families with. What difference does it, meeting someone in the streets and meeting someone on the net? The anonymity provided by the internet is a thriving breeding ground for perverts, criminals, drug-dealers, pimps, body-organ smugglers, modern-day slave traders, arms traffickers and all related vice that provide revenue that viciously feed into all these vices. They are all connected, the more vicious the more lucrative. But far more dangers lurks in the deep corners of the ‘web-street’ than you can fathom, far much more than in let’s say, Koinange Street. The kind of debasement that lady went through leaves you completely gutted.
But then it begs the question, why do such kinds of video posted online go viral? Even if it is stage-managed and not legit, and gutter press share the clips from known porn sites, social media soon latches onto it and before the day ends it on mainstream media; what makes the appetite to consume such extreme filth so ravenous?
You see the sensationalist way some journalist articulate the scenario, readers get served this gory picture that is a full-course menu to a culture whose dominant matrix and social practices consciously and unconsciously condone salacious details, normalize sexual-predators conduct, trivializes and even eroticizes sexual abuse. You wonder what school of journalism spews forth such unbalanced minds. But then again, it comes down to free-thought and demand and supply laws, right?
Which eventually brings me closer home. Malindi has been in the news for all the right reasons, adding real value to the exchequer, (where are the drumrolls). But again it has been from whence screams pierce the loudest as the regional hub for organized criminal activities run by dubious personalities with connections to Italian Mob. Some businesses here owned by largely Eye-talian population are considered fronts for shady stuff that are the real black-money minters, like yes, human trafficking feeding consumers of all vices you just read few minutes ago. Upcoming Malindi International Film Festival will be a first time a film festival of that magnitude is held in that historic town, and probably in the whole region. It is a perfect platform to highlight the fact that more good things, than bad things, apart from tourism and culture, can come out of Malindi.
We may not be able to end human trafficking in our generation, but we can all help reduce it and all related vices. Only you is enough.
It MUST end with one. ‘Fatuma’ will play her part. Play yours.
By Derek Kaddo – @KaddoEmpire
Last Saturday, HAART together with Fatuma’s Voice, PAWA254 and HopeNow held a poetry event and discussed human trafficking. Derek Kaddo was in audience and he was inspired by the event and wrote the story above. On Saturday 10.10.15, we are hosting another event and asking the question ‘are men victims of human trafficking?’ Click the image below for information and to sign up for the event.