US cites sex exploitation of Kenyan children, women and gay men

Sex workers demonstrating on the streets of Nairobi, March 6, 2012. PHOTO| JAYNE NGARI | FILE |

What you need to know:

  • It describes Kenya as “a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.”
  • The new worldwide survey groups Kenya with several countries that the US says do not fully comply with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking but that are making significant efforts to do so.

Children are “exploited in prostitution throughout Kenya, including in the coastal sex-tourism industry,” the US State Department said on Friday in its latest global report on Trafficking in Persons.

Kenyans who migrate in search of employment in other East African countries as well as in Europe, the US and Middle East may be exploited in domestic servitude, massage parlours and brothels, the report states.

“Kenyan women are subjected to forced prostitution in Thailand by Ugandan and Nigerian traffickers,” the State Department observes.

“Gay and bisexual Kenyan men are lured from universities with promises of overseas jobs, only to be forced into prostitution and sex trafficking in Qatar and the UAE,” according to the report.

KENYA ON WATCH LIST

The new worldwide survey groups Kenya with several countries that the US says do not fully comply with minimum standards for eliminating trafficking but that are making significant efforts to do so.

Kenya is placed on this “tier two watch list” for the third consecutive year.

But the report points out that solely on the basis of Kenya’s recent performance, the country could have been downgraded to the lowest of the three US-defined categories related to trafficking in persons. Washington may withhold some forms of aid to countries in that third tier.

That action was not taken, the report notes, because the Kenyan government has prepared a written plan that, “if implemented,” would mark significant steps toward bring the country into compliance with the minimum standards.

DEBT BONDAGE

The Kenyan government “has committed to devoting sufficient resources to implement that plan,” the report notes.

It describes Kenya as “a source, transit and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking.”

“Children from Burundi, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda are subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking in Kenya,” the report finds. “Kenyan children may endure similar exploitation in these countries.”

Lorries transporting goods from Kenya to Somalia are said to return to Kenya with young girls and women placed into brothels in Nairobi or Mombasa.

“Indian women recruited to work in mujra dance clubs in Nairobi face debt bondage, which they are forced to pay off by dancing and performing sex acts,” the report adds.

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