You’ve probably received various graphic images doing rounds on social media every so often of young Kenyan women working in one of the Arab countries living under squalid conditions and being mistreated. The lucky ones make it back home to tell the harrowing tales in pursuit of greener pastures.
Although it is rarely highlighted, slavery stubbornly persists throughout the world .This is rather unfortunate considering that the right of freedom from slavery is a fundamental human right and no set of circumstances can override or qualify an individual’s right to be free of slavery in the Kenyan Law and even in the European Convention on Human Rights but fact is many have been denied this vital privilege.
It is also not lost to many that its among the female gender that slavery is most hard hitting. Women carry a triple burden in addition to enduring the harsh conditions of forced labour, extreme forms of discrimination and exploitation as a result.
This year the United Nations commemorated the International Day of Remembrance of the Victims of Slavery and the Transatlantic Slave Trade under the theme, “Women and Slavery” paid tribute to the many enslaved women who endured unbearable hardships, including sexual exploitation, as well as those who fought for freedom from slavery and advocated for its abolition.
The theme which notably recognised the strength of enslaved women even after encountering abject abuse and neglect registered the need for a worldwide concern which has severally been placed at the peripheries of urgent interests called for ultimate address to this global predicament.
Lured by the promise of well-paid work and a chance to escape joblessness at home so as to send the much needed remittances to their families every year the risk of dismal misfortunes continue bedevilling Kenyan women seeking better life abroad left at the mercies of reigning illegal and unscrupulous recruitment agencies playing slave merchants. Many girls end up reported dead under mysterious circumstances while hundreds of others remain detained by agencies that abandon them in foreign countries.
Even with this reports agencies atrociously persist in minting millions through human trafficking and modern day slavery in broad day light through impunity issuance of thousands of passports monthly to unsuspecting poor girls being exported as slave-maids; all these happening under the governments watch.
Failure of the Kenyan Government to defend its citizens in and beyond its borders in taking concrete action against unscrupulous agents of slavery and death continues to be a big let down to Kenyans. The Government ought to step up and address these veiled acts of shame; lift fellow deserving Kenyans in the country or abroad out of harm’s way and put them on a path toward empowerment, financial stability and self reliance. It could start by creating solid job opportunities for the youth.
It is also a dishonour on Kenyans part for engaging in such life threatening conditions even after hearing of heartbreaking accounts from others who have gone to such countries and luckily survived terrible ordeals and still be willing to endanger their lives by accepting to be shipped to Middle east.
Unfortunately by the time you finish this last sentence another Kenyan is elatedly boarding a flight bound for the Middle East ignorant to the vast possibility of telling the same sad story.
It is my belief that the situation will change and employment agencies that do not meet government’s regulations be dealt with immediately to save lives. Let us all work together to end modern- day slavery.
This article was published on People Weekend on 15-16,August 2015