The desperation of Kenyan youth in search of employment abroad exposes many to dangers that have left some dead.
Enticed by the promise of lucrative jobs in foreign countries, hundreds of youth have fallen victim to and ended up suffering in the hands of their would-be employers.
Mr Ababu Namwamba, the Chief Administrative Secretary (CAS) in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Trade, told the Nation from New Delhi in India that it was shocking that human trafficking was “rapidly taking root in Kenya, particularly exploiting the vulnerability of young Kenyan girls to lure them into forced prostitution and other inhuman and degrading activities in foreign lands.”
In India, three Kenyan girls, lured for job opportunities, have lost their lives in the last one year.
Two reportedly died last year while the body of the third one, who was killed in a hit-and-run vehicle last week, still lies in a local morgue.
“We lost one of the rescued girls in a hit-and-run road accident last week. We must get her remains back home as soon as we trace her family,” said Mr Namwamba.
Further still, two Kenyan girls have sought refuge at the Kenyan Embassy in New Delhi, India.
According to Mr Namwamba, they were rescued and plans are underway to bring them back to home.
“The Kenyan High Commissioner Ambassador Florence Weche, Kenya Geneva-based ambassador Dr Stephen Ndung’u Karau and I have taken the initiative to ensure safe custody of the girls at the Embassy and they will return to the Country,” Mr Namwamba said.
The two told the Nation on the phone from the Embassy that their efforts to escape unemployment in Kenya exposed them to great suffering.
They went to India in November last year.
Mr Namwamba, who is currently on an official trip to India, said the country is becoming a lucrative destination for unsuspecting girls.
“I’m petrified to learn that India is becoming a lucrative destination for our unsuspecting girls at the mercy of ruthless international criminals syndicates.
“These vile criminals threaten to blemish the very cordial and beneficial ties between our two nations,” Mr Namwamba told Nation.
Alice*, who is currently at the Kenyan Embassy in New Delhi, said she was promised a job only to be introduced into prostitution in India.
“I was living in Mombasa when a local pastor introduced me to his wife. The woman told me she would help me secure a hotel job in India. She even agreed to help me process my travel documents and pay my transport, which she did,” narrated Alice.
She says that on arrival in India, she met her would-be employer who “did not explain to me quite well my job description. He took me to a local club and just dumped me there.”
Alice, did not know, her new job would be prostitution.
“I was so terrified and went back home. When I found him, he beat me up and threatened to throw me off the balcony. It was hell on earth. I had to endure for some time as I made attempts to bring it to the attention of the Kenyan Embassy.”
She said the ‘employer’ would take the largest share of the cash she made, leaving her with almost nothing.
“Food, which he promised to provide, was not forthcoming and I had to spend the little money I had to buy my own food. It was hell!” she said.
Her counterpart, Faith*, who was connected by a ‘friend’ in Nairobi when she asked her to get her a job, said she was told there was a computer job in India.
“The friend who bumped into me in Korogocho helped me get a passport and a visa then catered for my air ticket, telling me all that was now left was for me to act.”
Faith said that on arrival in India she met her ‘employer’ who took her to his house.
“He looked like a rich man and in his house were several computers. So he explained that I would be trained on how to use them later.
“He then took me to a local club and only asked me to take a seat and “smile” at men around and he left me there alone.
“It was so terrible. Sitting in a foreign club where I knew nobody and asked to smile was something very strange to me,” Faith said.
She says she cried when she realised she had been introduced into prostitution.
“I returned to his house only to find him with three other men. He asked me to give him the money I had made but I told him I did not have any.
“He threatened to kill me and said I would be forced to sell my ovaries,” narrates Faith.
She says she had no option but to endure the suffering as she made attempts to find somebody to rescue her.
“All my attempts to reach the person whom connected me to India have been futile.
“Only recently somebody directed me to the Kenyan Embassy where we are now taking refuge,” she stated.
Embassy officials in India said the two girls would be safely brought back to Kenya as they make efforts to end the illegal act.
“It is the official policy of the government of Kenya to protect the best interests of any Kenyan wherever they are. Anything we do is done in this broad context of a caring government.
“What constrains our missions abroad is limited resources. There is currently no budgetary allocation for this kind of rescue, safe custody and repatriation home.
“And so in this case we have had to lend a philanthropic hand. We found ourselves involved by happenstance and felt obliged to do something to help a quite distressful situation.
“I thank Ambassador Stephen Ndung’u Karau together with High Commissioner Florence Weche and her dedicated staff at our New Delhi Mission for their incredible spirit,” Mr Namwamba said.
He said the Government plans to undertake thorough investigations to identify, locate, isolate and destroy the evil trafficking syndicate, “from the source to the conveyor belt.”
“Those culpable must be arrested, tried and severely punished to render justice and deter similar crimes. We are also sounding alarm to all Kenyans that human trafficking is very real and our citizens are vulnerable.
“We caution every citizen to cross-check with us at Foreign Affairs and with our respective missions abroad before you accept to travel to some strange destination on the promise of some imaginary Canaan. Not everything that glitters is diamond,” Mr Namwamba said.
He said the Government would strengthen liaison with foreign missions in Nairobi to filter international criminal elements and their victims through the visa issuance process.
*Names changed to protect the victims.