Saturday, May 9, 2009

Human trafficking on the rise in East Africa

NAIROBI — Human trafficking for the purpose of forced labour and commercial sexual exploitation is a growing problem in East Africa, the findings of a new study show.

The study, conducted by the Catholic agency, Koinonia Advisory Research and Development Service (KARDS), to establish the response of faith-based organizations and other actors to the vice, covered Kenya and Tanzania. The findings were published last month.

Fifty-one organizations participated in the study. In Kenya, the study was conducted in Malindi, Mobasa and Nairobi, while in Tanzania data was gathered in Dar es Salaam and Zanzibar.

The study found that in Tanzania boys are trafficked for forced labour on farms, in mines, the fishing industry and the informal business sector. "Tanzanian girls from rural areas are trafficked to urban centres and the Island of Zanzibar for domestic servitude and commercial sexual exploitation; some domestic workers fleeing abusive employers fall prey to forced prostitution."

Tanzanian men are reportedly trafficked to South Africa for forced labour and girls are trafficked to Oman, the United Arab Emirates and possibly Europe, the report says.

Kenyan children are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude, street vending, agricultural labour, herding, work as bar maids, and commercial sexual exploitation. Other trafficked Kenyans end up in other African nations, the Middle East, Europe and North America.

"Employment agencies facilitate and profit from the trafficking of Kenyan nationals to Middle Eastern nations, notably Saudi Arabia, the UAE, and Lebanon, as well as Germany."

Chinese, Indian and Pakistan women reportedly transit Nairobi en route to Europe for the sexual trade. Brothels and massage parlours in Nairobi also employ foreign women. Children are trafficked into Kenya from Rwanda, DR Congo, Ehtiopia, Uganda and Somalia.

The report blames the vice on poverty, unemployment, migration, globalization, lack of birth registration, cultural and social norms and lack of appropriate laws to deal with human trafficking.

"Tanzania has enacted a law on human trafficking that is yet to be gazetted and enforced. Kenya's efforts to develop an appropriate law have been dragging on since 2007 when NGO's passed to the [Attorney General] a recommended bill," the report says.

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