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Street Children

Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025                             

Republic of Kenya

The regional hub for trade and finance in East Africa, Kenya has been hampered by corruption and by reliance upon several primary goods whose prices have remained low.

In 2006 the World Bank and IMF delayed loans pending action by the government on corruption. The international financial institutions and donors have since resumed lending, despite little action on the government's part to deal with corruption. Post-election violence in early 2008, coupled with the effects of the global financial crisis on remittance and exports, reduced GDP growth to 2.2% in 2008, down from 7% the previous year.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

Description: Description: Kenya

Kenya is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and sexual exploitation. Kenyan children are trafficked within the country for domestic servitude, forced labor in agriculture (including on flower plantations), cattle herding, in bars, and for commercial sexual exploitation, including involvement in the coastal sex tourism industry.   - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here or a full TIP Report here



CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Kenya.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Central Police Station
Country code: 254-



A generation betrayed

[access information unavailable]

Nation Newspapers carries a story today where the German ambassador to Kenya laments on the practice of child trafficking. More than 20,000 children are trafficked annually in Kenya! 20,000! Where are the parents whenever this practice is going on?

The ambassador states that the practice of child trafficking and prostitution is rampant due to private villas where these activities are carried out. Kenya currently has the notorious reputation as a hot sex tourism destination. Most of these villas are rented by visiting tourists. Anything can happen behind closed doors and nothing can be done to these law breakers. At 20,000 a year, these are too many children who fall through the cracks without the care of the government or families. With unmonitored villas and houses, the practice continues without interruption.


*** ARCHIVES ***

Closed Kenyan markets leads to human trafficking

Alex Anhalt, Mission Network News, 9 July 2020

[accessed 10 July 2020]

Efforts to control the spread of COVID-19 have closed public spaces around the world. However, closing markets in Kenya has seen unintended and dark consequences; families are selling their daughters into human trafficking and forced marriages.

According to Ed Weaver of Spoken Worldwide, many Kenyan locals are farmers and herdsmen. When markets close, they can’t sell livestock. When they can’t sell livestock, they have to find a different source of income.

So, in the face of starvation, they turn to a practice ingrained in Kenyan culture. They turn to forced marriage. They turn to human trafficking.

Kenyan culture normalizes marriages for money, and even families of believers struggle in the face of tradition and poverty. Although some organizations do work to spread awareness and push back, this new wave of forced marriages has largely flown under the radar.

Human Trafficking – It Came Disguised as the Opportunity of a Lifetime

Miriam Gathigah, Inter Press Service IPS, Nairobi, 3 October 2019

[accessed 12 October 2019]

Njambi says that back-breaking house work, working for at least 18 hours a day and sleeping on the floor characterised the first few days of employment. It quickly escalated to physical and sexual violence.   Days spiralled into months without a single day off and with no pay. “One day I went to the rooftop and threatened to jump off if they did not take me back home and it worked,” she narrates.

This was in 2013, at that time, news that hundreds of Kenyan girls were distressed and stranded in the Middle East was spreading across the country.   “The lucky ones made it home bruised and battered. Others came back in coffins. In 2014, the government banned Kenyans from travelling to the Middle East for work,” says Dinah Mbula*, who runs a recruiting agency in downtown Nairobi.

“There was a crackdown by the government targeting recruiting agencies but horror stories did not scare desperate unemployed people from going to the Middle East,” Mbula tells IPS.

Who is to blame for human trafficking, government or agencies?

Victoria Nyeko, Daily Monitor, 11 August 2019

[accessed 13 August 2019]

Recently, The EastAfrican newspaper reported that human trafficking is on the increase in the region. Since travel between the East African countries is now easier with passports no longer required, the neighbouring countries of Uganda, Kenya and Tanzania are said to be the main transit locations for trafficking. Although the most common form of human trafficking is sexual exploitation and forced labour, there is also a growing market for human organs ...

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: Kenya

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021

[accessed 13 June 2021]


Forms of forced labor included debt bondage, trafficking of workers, and compulsion of persons, even family members, to work as domestic servants. Domestic workers from Uganda, herders from Ethiopia, and others from Somalia, South Sudan, and Burundi were subjected to forced labor in the country; however, this trend was reportedly decreasing.


Many children worked on family plots or in family units on tea, coffee, sugar, sisal, tobacco, and rice plantations, as well as in the production of khat. Children worked in mining, including in artisanal gold mines, small quarries, and sand mines. Children also worked in the fishing industry. In urban areas businesses employed children in hawking, scavenging, carrying loads, fetching and selling water, selling food, and forced begging. Children often worked long hours as domestic servants in private homes for little or no pay, and there were reports of physical and sexual abuse of child domestic servants. Parents sometimes initiated forced or compulsory child labor, such as in agricultural labor and domestic service, but also including commercial sexual exploitation.

Most of the trafficking of children within the country appeared related to domestic labor, with migrant children trafficked from rural to urban areas.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 30 April 2020]


Kenya remains an unequal society, with wealth generally concentrated in towns and cities. The arid and semiarid north and northeastern parts of the country have particularly high poverty rates.

Refugees and asylum seekers from neighboring countries, particularly children, have been vulnerable to sex trafficking and forced labor in Kenya, though Kenyan children are also subject to such abuses. Kenyan workers are recruited for employment abroad in sometimes exploitative conditions, particularly in the Middle East.

2017 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

Office of Child Labor, Forced Labor, and Human Trafficking, Bureau of International Labor Affairs, US Dept of Labor, 2018

[accessed 18 April 2019]

[accessed 30 April 2020]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

[page 568]

Kenyan children are victims of human trafficking within and outside the country and exploited to engage in domestic work, agricultural work, fishing, begging, and street vending. Children also are victims of commercial sexual exploitation in tourism sectors, such as Nairobi and Kismu, and on the coast in informal settings. (28; 25) In rural areas, poverty drives some families to engage in trafficking children for domestic work in urban centers. (29) Children are also victims of commercial exploitation in drug production sites (khat), near gold mines, along major highways, and sexually exploited by fishermen on Lake Victoria. (25) During the year, an NGO released data showing 33,929 reported cases of child abuse in the past 10 years, of which 3,123 were child labor cases. (30) Children in Kenya scavenge dumpsites and streets for scrap material, including metal and glass. (5) These children earn about $1 to $2 per day, while often risking injury and exposing themselves to infectious diseases, such as tetanus, by sorting through waste. Evidence suggests that such children are also exposed to mercury due to e-waste recycling and gold mining. (5) Reports also indicate that children ages 10 to 17 mine or harvest sand and work in Busia, Homa Bay, Kilifi, Kitui, Machakos, and Nakuru counties, increasing their likelihood of developing aggravated asthma, lung or heart disease, and cancer. (17; 31; 13) Most children who are engaged in child labor, including commercial sexual exploitation, are girls, but boys are also involved. (5; 32; 33).

Tackling Human Trafficking Through a National Plan of Action

International Organization for Migration IOM, 17 August 2007

[accessed 10 July 2013]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

In addition, internal trafficking of Kenyans is considered to be widespread, particularly from rural to urban areas such as Nairobi and Mombasa for exploitation in domestic labour and commercial sex. The majority of Kenyan victims are either trafficked or introduced to their traffickers by family members or friends, with the most common method of recruitment being promises of good jobs or education. Once in a trafficking situation, victims report overwork, physical and sexual abuse, non-payment or under-payment, poor working conditions, and restricted or no access to schooling.

Passport forgery to blame for trafficking

Susan Anyangu, East African Standard Page: 11 on Sat 12th May 2007, under Governance

[accessed 28 November 2010]

Immigration Officer Mr Alfred Omangi said human trafficking was on the increase and that the cartels were too advanced for law enforcers.  It has emerged that the Immigration Department is not adequately equipped to detect forgeries. This, plus the porous nature of Kenyan borders, is fuelling human trafficking.

New study shames human traffickers

Patrick Mathangani, The Standard, May 11, 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 September 2011]

A new report by an international trade unions’ umbrella organisation says Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen are notorious destinations for women trafficked from Kenya.

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions (ICFTU) says Kenyans were also trafficked to Germany, Italy and South Africa for domestic labour and prostitution.

Its report, ‘Trafficking in Persons — The Eastern Africa Situation’, notes that women and children were favourite targets for well-organised trafficking rings, which operate freely for lack of solid laws against the vice.

Dr George Gona, an expert on trade unions at the University of Nairobi, said trafficking of children within Kenya was also rampant.  Studies showed children were being removed from their rural homes to urban centres to work as domestic helps and prostitutes.

Trafficking victim tells her story

Patrick Mayoyo, Daily Nation (Kenya), 20 February 2007

[accessed 16 February 2011]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

[accessed 11 February 2019]

Lucy Kabanya, 39, was in high spirits at the Moi International Airport in Mombasa on July 8, last year. And she had every reason to be, for she had just boarded a Condor Airline plane on her way to Germany, courtesy of her German “boyfriend”. Various thoughts flashed through her mind as the plane cut through the clouds on its way to Frankfurt, where she was to spend a three-month holiday. But all hopes of an exciting and wonderful stay in a foreign land were shattered on arrival in Germany, when her host confiscated her travel documents and denied her food for several days before informing her that she would work as a sex slave.

Mombasa Hub for Human Trafficking

Ngumbao Kithi, The Nation (Nairobi), November 27, 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 September 2011]

"The whole network starts when girls leave home to come to the Coast in the guise of looking for a job, they join prostitution - the dream of each woman is to get a white man and be taken abroad," said Ms Akinyi.  She said her organisation was involved in rehabilitation and resettlement of women who have been married abroad and turned into slaves.

State drafting laws to curb human trafficking

18 August 2006 -- Source:

[accessed 10 July 2013]

Lack of proper laws and policies is hampering the fight against child trafficking, Vice-President, Mr Moody Awori has said.  Consequently, Awori on Thursday said the Attorney General was drafting laws to curb trafficking of persons. He said poverty, lack of education and high number of HIV/Aids orphans exposed many people to human trafficking.

Child Trafficking in the U.K.

Ambrose Musiyiwa (amusiyiwa), OhmyNews, 2006-07-25

[accessed 23 April 2012]

She was a teenage orphan living on the streets of Nairobi when a man approached her and promised her work in the United Kingdom. He told her she would be working as a house girl.

True to his word, her "savior" brought her into the U.K. -- but instead of placing her with a family the man took her to a brothel, where she was systematically raped, beaten, and forced to work as a prostitute.

Three months later, when the 16-year-old Kenyan girl became pregnant, she was forced to continue sleeping with a succession of men until she was almost due to give birth. The heavily pregnant teenager was then removed from the brothel, driven out of the town where she had been held, and dumped many miles away on the streets of Sheffield.

The sequence of events that has emerged during those interviews is both shocking and tragic. It involves imprisonment, beatings, and systematic rape over a lengthy period.

Migration body to monitor human trafficking impact

Real Restoration

[accessed 30 April 2020]

"Many girls are taken from Iringa and brought to major cities to work as housegirls but they end up being subjected to prostitution and other works which they did not expect, this is internal trafficking," she said.

Many young boys, she said, are taken to work in the mining companies, something which not only denies their rights but also are psychosocially affected.

Law needed to fight human trafficking, says Tobiko

30 April 2006 -- Source:

[accessed 10 July 2013]

The Government is under pressure to come up with a comprehensive national policy and legislation to counter human trafficking in the country.

The Director of Public Prosecutions, Keriako Tobiko, said yesterday that the lack of a counter trafficking legislation posed a big problem towards the prosecution of offenders.

An African cleansing rite that now can kill

Sharon LaFraniere, The New York Times, May 12, 2005

[accessed 23 April 2012]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

In Malawi and in a number of nearby nations including Zambia and Kenya, a husband's funeral has long concluded with a final ritual: sex between the widow and one of her husband's relatives, to break the bond with his spirit and, it is said, save her and the rest of the village from insanity or disease. Widows have long tolerated it, and traditional leaders have endorsed it, as an unchallenged tradition of rural African life.

Knight Fellow accused of human trafficking

Joaquín Hernández, The Stanford Daily, February 26, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 September 2011]

Alice came to the U.S. with Njuguna-Githinji in the hope of a better life,” Harris said. “Instead she was mistreated by Njuguna-Githinji, who failed to pay Alice hourly wages that comply with federal minimum-wage standards.”  Kim added, “In addition to hourly wage violations, there is substantial evidence that our client was a victim of false imprisonment, fraud and intentional infliction of emotional distress.”  Although fully aware of her alleged mistreatment, Alice refrained from contacting authorities after she was threatened that she would be deported if she spoke to others about her work, Harris said.

‘Deya Babies’ Are Victims of Trafficking

Mwangi Githahu, The Nation, Kenya, Aug. 29, 2004

[accessed 17 February 2011]

Archbishop Deya, whose wife is being questioned, continues to maintain that he can and did create “miracle babies” for childless couples by exorcising demons to make them fertile, some charities have come out and said in no uncertain terms that his actions are, in fact, a front for trafficking babies from Kenya to the UK.

Document - 2004 UN Commission on the Status of Women. Violence against Women: universal but not inevitable!

Amnesty International, 2004

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN IN THE FAMILY - In some countries, personal status laws may condone violence against women. Some obedience and modesty laws require a wife’s submission to her husband and give the husband an explicit or implicit right to discipline his wife, and in some countries women are considered to be the property of their fathers or husbands. In parts of Kenya, for example, on the death of her husband, a woman is likely to be "inherited" by his brother or a close relative.

US names Kenya in slavery report

Kevin J Kelley, Daily Nation, New York, 06/16/2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 7 September 2011]

"Some trafficking offences could be prosecuted under laws addressing child labour, forced detention for prostitution and the commercial exploitation of children, but no trafficking-related offences have been prosecuted", the report says in its assessment of Kenya. "Kenyan police officials continue to deny that trafficking is a problem."

But in seeming contradiction to these criticisms, the State Department says elsewhere in the same assessment that Kenyan officials are increasingly engaged with the United States to develop anti-trafficking programmes. The report notes that a human trafficking unit was created in the police force last year with US assistance.

The vicious circle of sexual exploitation

Zachary Ochieng,  News from Africa, August 2002

[accessed 17 February 2011]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

A unique feature of child prostitution in Kenya is that people take in destitute children but instead of caring for them, they hire the children out as prostitutes from time to time. Some children are also kept in brothels alongside adult prostitutes.

Child marriages have also been noted as a form of sexual exploitation. They are common among the pastoral communities in districts including Kajiado, Transmara, Moyale, Wajir, and Mandera. According to the report, some parents are known to marry off their young girls to older men in order to pay the school fees of their male siblings. - htcp

Part 1: Some foreign household workers enslaved

Stephanie Armour, USA TODAY, 11/21/2001

[accessed 17 February 2011]

MEDIAN HOURLY WAGE: $2.14 - But according to a June study on domestic workers by Human Rights Watch, problems persist. A review of more than 40 cases found immigrants on special visas received a median hourly wage of $2.14, which is 42% of the $5.15 federal minimum wage. The median workday was 14 hours.

AMONG RECENT CASES - • Alice Benjo and Mary Chumo, both from Kenya, were "kept as virtual slaves" at the home of their employer, an employee at the Kenyan Embassy in Washington, according to legal documents. They worked for Elizabeth Belsoi, a citizen of Kenya, in the suburb of Bowie, Md. According to a lawsuit filed last year, they generally worked more than 18 hours a day, couldn't use the phone and were unable to freely leave the home.  Belsoi denied the charges through her lawyer, who says she fully complied with the employment agreement. The lawsuit was settled out of court for an undisclosed sum.

Child Labour Persists Around The World: More Than 13 Percent Of Children 10-14 Are Employed

International Labour Organisation (ILO) News, Geneva, 10 June 1996

[accessed 7 September 2011]

[accessed 4 February 2018]

"Today's child worker will be tomorrow's uneducated and untrained adult, forever trapped in grinding poverty. No effort should be spared to break that vicious circle", says ILO Director-General Michel Hansenne.

Among the countries with a high percentage of their children from 10-14 years in the work force are: Mali, 54.5 percent; Burkina Faso, 51; Niger and Uganda, both 45; Kenya, 41.3; Senegal, 31.4; Bangladesh, 30.1; Nigeria, 25.8; Haiti, 25; Turkey, 24; Côte d'Ivoire, 20.5; Pakistan, 17.7; Brazil, 16.1; India, 14.4; China, 11.6; and Egypt, 11.2.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 12 October 2001

[accessed 16 February 2011]

[59] The Committee notes with appreciation that the State party has signed a memorandum of understanding with ILO and that various ILO/International Program on the Elimination of Child Labor (IPEC) programs to prevent and combat child labor are being carried out. The Committee also welcomes the establishment of a National Steering Committee on child labor. Nevertheless, and in the light of the current economic situation, the increasing number of school drop-outs and the increasing number of street children, the Committee is concerned about the large number of children engaged in labor and the lack of information and adequate data on the situation of child labor and economic exploitation in the State party. The Committee notes also with concern that notwithstanding various legal provisions there is no firm minimum age for admission to employment and that child labor is still prevalent in the State party.

The Protection Project - Kenya [DOC]

The Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS), The Johns Hopkins University

[accessed 2009]

FORMS OF TRAFFICKING - Young Kenyan women and children are commonly lured with false promises of employment abroad, but they end up in the sex industry instead.  Parents often pay significant sums to send their children to the United Kingdom believing that the children will have a better life there. On arriving, however, Kenyan and other girls from African countries are coerced into prostitution or forced labor.

The most common forms of trafficking in children from and within Kenya are theft of toddlers, abduction of children for forced marriage, confinement of child domestic servants, abduction of children for use in occult practices, and illicit intercountry adoptions.   Child labor is prevalent in Kenya, with an estimated 41.3 percent of children between 10 and 14 years of age being exploited for cheap labor.  In additional, many pregnant women are reportedly involved in baby trafficking, in which babies who are days old are sold by the mother or by other individuals.


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 9 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – Victims were trafficked from South and East Asian countries and the Middle East and transited in the country to European destinations for sexual exploitation. Asian nationals, principally Indians, Bangladeshis, and Nepalese, were trafficked into the country and coerced into bonded labor in the construction and garment industries.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 16 February 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Kenya is a source, transit and destination country for trafficked children.  Kenyan children are reportedly trafficked to South Africa, and there are reports of internal trafficking of children into involuntary servitude, including for work as street vendors, day laborers, and as prostitutes.  Children are also trafficked from Burundi and Rwanda to coastal areas of Kenya for purposes of sexual exploitation.

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