Modern Slavery in Kenya

660-human-trafficking2-APThe term modern slavery is often described using different terminologies which vary from country to country and include the term slavery itself, but also other concepts such as human trafficking, forced labour, debt bondage, forced or servile marriage, and the sale and exploitation of children. We use the term “modern slavery” as defined in the Global Slavery  Index, where the term modern slavery involves: one person possessing or controlling another person in such a way as to significantly deprive that person of their individual liberty, with the intention of exploiting that person through their use, management, profit, transfer or disposal.

In the pat two years, Child Aid Organization Kenya in partnership with the Walk Free Foundation and othe local civil society organizations has been implementing a program aimed at addressing the issue in Kenya. In order to achieve this goal, CAOK sought to provide space for organizations working on issues related to modern slavery, to  hold frank conversations and to collectively recommend pragmatic solutions to tackling the current challenges Kenya as a country faces in child sex tourism, human trafficking and domestic slavery.

One such forum was held late last year (2015) in Nairobi, where over 20 agencies came together in a half day round table forum to explore ways of working collaboratively to harness tools, and organizational resources to address the problem of modern slavery in Kenya.

Modern Slavery in Kenya: Insights from Key Panelists

Winnie Mutevu, Programmes Officer HAART Kenya: HAART Kenya is an NGO that mainly deals with fighting human trafficking in Kenya. Winnie shared insights of how HAART Kenya uses community engagement to stop and or prevent Human Trafficking through community mobilization, sensitization and empowerment. Some of the strategies HAART Kenya uses include: community mapping in order to understand the problem (of human trafficking) and the existing resources; they also conduct social research so that their interventions are evidence – based. Training and awareness raising is also one of their core activities in their programming. Their trainings entail: safe migration; building the capacity of local groups through training of the trainers (TOTs); community Sensitization through Art to end modern slavery. These exhibitions use art to illustrate and pass a message of the various forms of modern slavery existing in Kenya.

Joan Birika Executive Director Missing Children

Child Labour 1


Joan explored opportunities to counter transnational child sex offences, modern slavery and human trafficking. She brought to the limelight that slavery is present and happening regularly in our societies. She posed tough questions which she asked participants to ponder upon. These were:

  1. What is modern slavery? For us to be able to address modern slavery we need to start by defining what it is – in fact understanding the problem!
  2. To what extent do we understand the problem?
  3. How will we get into the minds of the offenders? She said that human trafficking is complex, organized and is happening under the noses of governments and prevention agencies. She further added that we [concern agencies] are working with cartels which are well organized and informed; that there is a circle of agents and aiders of these crimes. Therefore the need to critically think about what practical strategies should be adopted. She concurred with Winnie Mutevu, that there is a strong need to do community mapping, to understand both the problem and what available resources exist; and to understand vulnerabilities –such as what patterns does modern slavery form? Joan said that human traffickers are like a “moving target” and they are always a step ahead of us [protrction/ prevention agencies] in terms of their planning and strategizing.  She posed tough questions for all to think about. Some of the questions she posed are:
  4. Are we ready to ask tough questions; like whose interests do they (human traffickers) serve?;
  5. what are the risks we face in doing this work?;
  6. Do we understand criminology?; and
  7. what is the Government’s commitment to drive policy change, support victims, cooperate and coordinate with other governments/agencies locally, regionally and globally as well as formulate sophisticated and smart strategies? All these questions helped to initiate deep and serious discussions as the meeting progressed – and to also individually think [deeply] about the challenges we face in our respective sectors in child protection.

Sister Pat Beyran of Sisters of Charity  based at the Holy Rosary Catholic Church in Thigio:



Sister Pat shared real-life case scenarios on human trafficking that their Charity has practically helped to address or witnessed. She continued to say that human trafficking  more often than not happens due to the ignorance of the victims.  She said that in their parish, at least every one person you ask this question on human trafficking knows of a person who has been trafficked either from their own families or that of their neighbours. She shared several examples of both young and old people who have been tricked and trafficked out of their Ndeiya community. She gave a daring example of a mother who made a scene at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, upon learning that her daughter was about to be trafficked out of the country. She managed to rescue her, sadly though— the girl managed to sneak out of their home a few weeks later and disappeared never to be seen again to this day!

She shared with the participants another example of a young boy who was kidnapped by a family driver the boy’s family had trusted for many years – this boy however managed to alert police officers along the way as he was being trafficked [smuggled] to another town in Kenya and was able to be re-united with his family – “this is just one of the very few cases that have a happy ending!” She posed.

What shocked the participants most is the fact that traffickers in this area target even old men and women with an offer of better jobs abroad. Some, she said, were in their late 60s! She concluded by asking all present that there was a strong and urgent need to create more awareness to our people. In conclusion she said, “That is why Sisters of Charity have resolved to train lay child protection workers and have already developed a child protection policy for all our staffs which we have translated into Swahili and the local Kikuyu language”.

Muthoni Likimani, Kenyan Author, Media Personality and Child Rights Activist: She is simply referred to as “Grandma.” Grandma emphasized the need to use community education to help our people understand more about human trafficking.  Muthoni, is in her late 80s and still very passionate about human and children rights. She took participants “down the memory lane” – back to the colonial times – when as a young girl, she saw all men and boys taken into forests to fight the oppressive colonial regime as underground Mau Mau fighters. “Some of these men never returned to their families!” – She said. She further shared several excerpts from local Newspapers – dating back several decades on the topic under discussion and how sometimes she was moved to intervene.

Muthoni Likimani has also authored several books, such as “Passbook Number F47927”, and “Fighting without Ceasing” amongst her other best selling titles, but her latest book titled “MY BLOOD IS NOT FOR SALE” was inspired by the fact that so many innocent children suffer brutality and end up dying in the hands of human traffickers. She concluded by posing a tough question “When did we stop selling cows, goats and chicken and began selling human beings?”

She challenged the participants to question any suspicious looking person accompanied by children who look disturbed or lost. Don’t be afraidd of asking – “whose children are these?”, or “where are you taking them?” etc. This way, we’ll be able to intervene at some points at least to scare off people with ill motives.

Guest Speaker – Paul Stanfield, Regional Manager, East and South Africa – National and Crime Agency (UK): Paul explored practical ways of protecting children from sex offenders. He spoke in detail about the work of the National Crime Agency [UK] and its role of protecting children everywhere from specifically British sex offenders.  He spoke in detail on public protection and why it was necessary that all actors in child protection prioritized the immediate protection of vulnerable children. He also explained that there is need to build and/ or provide capacity “what is measured gets done” for the local police to be able to pursue sex offenders, and reiterated the need to formulate a joint task force comprising of the police, civil society organizations and the government.  He advised that the task force should formulate clear objectives, a simple mission and attainable goals. Having such a task force would attract support from other governments and even donor agencies to provide more support in the fight of transnational sexual abuse of children. In summary he emphasized three main points:

  1. The need to set up a child protection task force – similar to CEOP in UK which has four key strategies; Protect, Prevent,  and Prepare
  2. To have a simple mission statement e.g. “Every Child Matters” and this should bring together all key organizations working in these issues.
  3. A clear strategy and action plan; identifying the right people; communication and a clear strategy i.e.  Tell the people why you are doing this, and have have an action plan with measurable outcomes. He said that “what gets measured, gets done.”


  1. How to engage with the media Khainga O’okwemba, a Journalist with the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation (KBC)and a columnist with the Star Newspaper, shared with the participants practical ways of how to, and the need to engage the media in their (CSOs) work. He later scheduled an interview at the KBC studio where Tom Omwenga (CAOK), Sonia Kwami (Walk Free), Joan Birika (Missing Children), Winnie Mutevu (HAART Kenya), Evelyn Kemunto (The Cradle) and Simon Okello (Share A Meal Foundation) spoke about the role their organizations are playing in preventing human trafficking, domestic slavery and commercial exploitation of children. Tom Omwenga and Sonia Kwami spoke about the purpose of the CSOs round – table meeting that had just been concluded earlier on that day and asked the listeners to join hands in the fight against modern slavery – in whatever form.
  2. The participants also agreed that there was need for networking and collaboration across the board i.e. with the government, law enforcement and between civil societies themselves. To achieve this goal, the following strategies were proposed: a. Set up/ from a joint taskforce on child protection i. It was brought to the attention of the participants that there already is a special working group on children has been constituted by NCAJ comprising of the Police, Civil Society organizations, key/line government departments e.g. children services, and the judiciary – however, there is need for this group to develop a clear child protection strategy. For example Paul Stanfield, shared the “Every Child Matters” four pillars/strategies being used in the UK that this group could adapt moving forward; a) Protect, Prevent, Pursue and Prepare strategy- which can also be adapted in Kenya. b) Set clear objectives c) Have a simple mission d) and achievable work plans.
  3. The group also decided that there is an urgent need for more community sensitization/awareness rising around these three thematic areas. The Way Forward
    • Sonia Kwami, Walk Free’s Africa’s Snr. Campaigner shared Walk Free’s online campaigning tools. She said that these tools will be made free for willing partners to use
    • A Small drafting group/team was formed to draft a joint communiqué.

The final communiqué was circulated to all organizations represented for endorsement and then sent to all local media houses as a press – release.

By Tom Omwenga, Anne Wanjiru & Florence Cherotich – and all the CAOK team.

Why Victims Never Disclose Child Sexual Abuse

Tom Omwenga Stop Child Sexual Abuse

This is a very good question and there are many factors that compact the silence that surrounds sexual abuse. When the victim is a child it can be complicated even further by love, affection, attention, gifts, a feeling of being special (all grooming techniques by abusers) and the slow introduction into the sexual abuse. The abuse of a child causes them to have the feeling that this is not right, that this shouldn’t be done to them or that they shouldn’t be doing this to another. These mixed feeling when coupled with the grooming techniques causes even further confusion for a child. In addition to this it is worth noting that from birth we are all sexual beings and as such if we are touched in a certain manner some nice feelings may be experienced . These unwanted feeling when mixed with the other emotions such as fear, guilt, not being believed, of being a child -v- an adult, together causes a child to begin to think that they have done something to cause this to happen to them or they start to believe that they didn’t do enough to stop it. This further compounds the mixed feelings and emotions and when then, added to the threats that they will be punished or that some one they love will be punished or suffer, the mixed feelings and emotions are compounded even further. Now add in their mental age and capacity and ask yourself how could a child even start to try and comprehend what has happened to them? How can they tell what has happened to them? Will they think that they did something wrong? Will they think that they will be in trouble? These emotion are too great for their conscious mind to comprehend, so one technique is to dissociate from it and in some cases lock the memories away for years; only for them to resurface later in life when triggered by some event. One has to ask themselves how could a child disclose when burdened by all of these factors. Those who manage to find the strength to disclose usually only tell enough to make the abuse stop. The whole story may never be told unless a professional manages to assist them to tell their stories. The brave victims that do tell their stories I acknowledge as ‘ingenious survivors’. I use the word ingenious because they found a way to survive the unbearable. For someone to disclose abuse, trust, active listening, empathy, sensitivity, rapport, attuning, exploration together with periodic and extensive summarising need to be applied before meaningful communication can be created with a victim that will allow them to feel safe enough to disclose their horrendous experiences. The lack of an understanding or the ability to develop meaningful communication is the reason in my belief why people do not disclose sexual abuse.

(This article was written by John O’Reilly author of “Sex Slavery the way back”.

Setting up Child Protection Advocacy Groups in Nairobi

The Month of March was a busy one for us at Child Aid Organization Kenya. Our last month’s community sensitization meeting in Thigio – Kikuyu where we helped build the local capacity on child protection, we had requests from two communities in Nairobi to talk with parents. We held two separate community sensitization meetings with key duty bearers (pastors & local women group leaders) in two locations in Nairobi.  The first meeting was held in Soweto at Soweto Social Hall on 14th March 2015. A total of twenty participants (17 women and 3 men) were in attendance. The purpose of the meeting was to deliberate, and to come up with solutions – as a community, on how best the residents of Soweto could participate in protecting their children from engaging in risky behaviors such as  prostitution/pornography, alcoholism, drug abuse and gang activities. There are numerous reports from this area that children get sexually abused in video dens and massage parlous that are springing up in the slum area. It was resolved that an advisory committee be established to act as a watch dog and CAOK to hold regular meetings with this committee to build their capacity in child protection – especially against sexual violence of children.

SAM_0620 Workshop

The second meeting was held in parklands at Hospital Hill Primary School Hall on Saturday, April 28th 2015. A total of 15 parents (all female parents) were in attendance. The theme of the meeting was “positive parenting”. Reports from this school indicate that parents and children do not engage in positive communication – either because the parents are too busy to eek a living hence not creating enough family time with their children – and children needing their “space”. Our staffs made a presentation on how children as young as 12 years old, sometimes even younger get lost into sexual exploitation. Dysfunctional families were cited as a fertile ground for such vices to happen. We shared child protection resources; including some of our campaign materials with the parents. Short video clips elicited group discussions. It was agreed that participants form a child protection group meeting regularly to feedback on their progress and to also help to hold discussions with other parents’ during the school’s parents’ and teachers’ association termly meetings.

We anticipate that the two sensitization meetings will contribute to stopping violence against children and women (who are the most probable victims) in these two areas; contribute to a more sensitized local community of the forms of modern slavery existing and how they can protect their children from falling prey of these vices within these urban settings.

We also encouraged these groups to liaise more with existing child protection strengths/structures that have been set up by their local governments and where none exist, lobby for their formation.

Child Protection Community Sensitization Forum in Thigio, Kikuyu

We held a very successful and fruitful sensitization workshop with the parishioners of the Holy Cross Catholic Church in Thigio, in Kikuyu in the outskirts of Nairobi. The event was sponsored by Sisters of Charity Home – Thigio. Fifty four participants attended the day long sensitization. The primary target groups were church staff and community people working in child protection or those passionate with children issues in the community. The workshop covered: Child Protection; Children rights and Human trafficking. The purpose of the training was to sensitize the community on modern slavery (or slavery – like activities), explore practical ways in which the community can better protect their children  from abuse and exploitation; to impart knowledge about human trafficking and to orient participants of children rights as human rights; and exploring the need to form child Protection Committees in the area to aid in protecting children (including the most vulnerable) within this community – those who are  categorized as needing special care and protection as per Kenya children Act (2001).

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…and how are the children today? ; Child Aid Organization Kenya

Copy of Copy of logo
It never at one time clicked in my mind how working with children in society was such a fulfilling obligation until I set foot in Child Aid Organization Kenya. It is then that I realized that children in society today were calling out and their cries could only be heard if we all in collaborative efforts stepped out and addressed the surrounding issues i.e. Child Sexual Abuse.

Child Aid Organization Kenya is a community-based non-governmental organization founded in 2008.It operates on national level in the area of child sexual abuse prevention(CSA),training and advocacy work in Kenya. Its purpose is to prevent and stop the sexual abuse of children in its entire forms :reduce societal tolerance of the sexual exploitation of children :prevent entry of children I into exploitation in all its forms: effectively advocate for the creation of strong,enforceable legislatives environments to protect children from sexual exploitation; and ensure that children who are sexually exploited have access to a range of services that enhances their safety and well-being and supports exit from sexual exploitation.

The organization operates under a policy statement which is comprised of the mission, vision, goals and objectivesPicture 249


To prevent all forms of children exploitation and maltreatment and to ensure that children and young people get access to timely protection services.
A world where children and young people are safe and enjoying a happy, healthy and secure childhood.
The purpose of the organization is to prevent the sexual abuse of children .The priorities and objectives of the organization are to eliminate the sexual abuse and exploitation of children in all its forms; and to make the positive engagement of men and buys by being a driving force in the elimination of the sexual abuse and exploitation of children.
To serve all children and young people without regard to nationality, ethnicity, ability, political belief, gender, status, religion or origin.
CAOK’s child policy ensures that staff, volunteers, and other representatives of CAOK and also our partners:
• Are aware of the problem of child abuse and related issues
• Safeguard children from abuse and all maltreatment through good practices
• Report all concerns about possible abuse
• Respond appropriately when abuse is discovered
• Everyone’s prime responsibility is to prevent child abuse
• CAOK will raise any concerns about the safety of children and or the behavior of adults
• Abuse prevention, Training and Advocacy
• Community participation and community development
• Sustainable Livelihoods
• Orphans and vulnerable children
• Research /impact assessments
• Gender audit, analysis and planning
• Sexual and intimate partner violence prevention programs
• Analysis of gender equity and vulnerability
• Local strategic partnerships
• International collaboration/programming
• Use of digital; platforms for advocacy (e.g. social media;
Face book/twitter /whatsapp etc

• Sexual Abuse prevention
• Identification, rehabilitation and re-integration of vulnerable children.
• Project and program design and management
• Lobbying &Advocacy for the facilitation of national reform programs and sector wide development plans on child protection ,identification ,prevention and monitoring and evaluation
• Research, evaluation, review, impact assessment.
• Capacity building support and training
• Consultancy services and technical assistance

Education, children have a chance to build a solid future. This is an important weapon in the battle against inequality and poverty, as well as extreme forms of exploitation such as human trafficking and child prostitution.

Sexual Abuse Prevention
Child Aid Organization Kenya aims to foresee that child protection is offered from exploitation, ensuring their rights to education and development. Extreme forms of child labor, abuse and exploitation are still community in East Africa. Although primarily linked to poverty, social and cultural circumstances also play a role. In 2008, CAOK enacted an educationally-based intervention and policy initiative on child sexual abuse awareness. Prevention and reporting/treatment practices called ‘’ (EPSA).This project has since established an international collaboration on child sexual abuse prevention that is supported and co-ordinated by the stop it Now (USA)

Capacity Building

Child Aid Organization Kenya plans and organizes impactful training conferences ,seminars ,workshops, and community outreaches activities to empower adults /parents,professionals,and communities on child sexual abuse and how it can be prevented /stopped. Since 2008, CAOK has been conducting sensitization meetings and training workshops in Kenya on Human rights and child rights violations.

Advocacy Work
CAOK is part of a network of local and international NGOs that extensively lobby for children safety and providing safe environments for children .In Kenya ,CAOK is a member of a technical working committee on developing a national plan of Action against Commercial sexual Exploitation of children in Kenya coordinated by the National Council of children services (NCCS)
and spearheaded by End Child prostitution in Kenya (ECPIK)

Picture 194

Volunteer Work
Volunteers plays a very important role in Child Aid Organization’s work .Applications are welcomed. This is outlined in our website .

Child Aid Kenya forms a perfect foundation for all of us to come together and make our children have a desired conducive environment for developmental growth .This will be achieved by addressing their rights, needs and interacting with them positively and thus an ALL-ROUND CHILD is re-birthed.
Am happy to share this with you, beautiful people.



About Us
Child Aid Organization Kenya is a registered community based non-governmental organization incorporated in Kenya under the society’s Act to advocate for the rights of children; education and awareness creation on sexual abuse prevention and to offer assistance to victims of child trafficking and survivors of child sexual abuse and other forms of violence against children.

Our Mission
Our mission is to prevent the sexual abuse of children and other forms of contemporary slavery and to ensure that children and young people get access to prevention services.

What we do
In the past three years, CAOK has been implementing the following programs in partnership with international and local partners and donors.
i. Preventing sexual abuse of children: a community and school – based intervention in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2010, we entered into an international collaboration with STOP It Now! a USA based NGO to pilot a project aimed at engaging adults in the prevention of sexual abuse of children. Through this pilot, we conducted focus group discussions with adults on their perceptions on child sexual abuse in their respective communities. The purpose of this project was to increase information and skills for adults/ professionals, from the Kibera and Kayole communities in Nairobi area in order to empower them to recognize commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) and other forms of gender – based violence and how to avoid, address and report abusive situations.

From April 2011, with a grant from The Stop It Now! /and The OAK Foundation, the Child Aid Organization Kenya (CAOK), is piloting a child sexual abuse prevention program in three locations in Nairobi. This program, “Preventing Child Sexual Abuse: a community and school – based intervention in Nairobi Kenya”, aims at piloting a child sexual abuse prevention community and school – based intervention aimed at reducing the impact and severity of child sexual abuse within targeted communities and help existing community structures to adopt good practices to protect, prevent, respond and resolve sexual abuse of children within their areas/and or at their work places.

ii. Conducting sensitization meetings engaging adults and young people in Nairobi, for the prevention of human trafficking and on offering assistance to survivors and/ or victims of Human Trafficking. In January 2011, CAOK received a Capacity Building grant from KARDS to strengthen its efforts at managing the problem of trafficking in persons, and to build the training capacity of its partners especially at the community level to effectively understand the basic concepts and terminologies surrounding issues of trafficking, identifying trafficking victims, recognize the risk factors and vulnerability at the source, in transit and at destination, and identify and communicate with trafficking victims. By June this year, we had trained 30 Trainer of Trainers (TOTs) using artistic expressions that were easy to apply, visually compelling and engaging dialogue and enhance accessibility to the information contained in the training modules especially for low literate participants. This is a one year pilot project in three three communities in Nairobi, Kenya. Based on the findings at this stage; this program will be expanded and/ or replicated in other areas in Nairobi or elsewhere in Kenya.

iii. Education and awareness creation on the prevention of child sexual abuse (EPSA): In 2008, Child Aid Organization Kenya formed a bi – national collaboration of researchers, rights – based advocates and policymakers in Kenya which enacted an educationally school and community – based intervention and policy initiative on child sexual abuse and exploitation (CSA/E) awareness, prevention and reporting /treatment practices called “Education for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse (EPSA)”.This pilot project established a training manual for teachers on CSA, combining cultural considerations with utilization of concepts from Preventing Sexual Abuse, a book authored by Dr. Carol Plummer. Two hundred teachers from fifty schools were pre-testing to gain understanding of current knowledge and reporting practices of teachers during the summer of 2009. This pilot revealed statistically significant gains for teachers in a number of knowledge, attitudinal and behavioral domains. EPSA consisted of multiple activities operating simultaneously: formative research, community awareness, and promotion of professionals and teacher training.

iv. Partners: We partner with Live Well Care Solutions, a local community based organization in Komarock location in Nairobi, and New Adventure Community Based Organization – Kibera to implement projects at the community level. Some of these projects are:
a. The Orphans and Vulnerable Children Program and
b. The KUNA NAFASI HIV/AIDS Prevention, Care and Treatment Services.


For more information contact:

Jane Wanjiru, Communications & Advocacy Officer


Tel. +254 – 20 -22321156

P.O. Box 483 – 00518

Nairobi, Kenya

Education and awareness raising on Preventing commercial sexual exploitation of children in Nairobi, Kenya

About the Trainer of Trainers Project

This training will focus on defining some of the key concepts and terms used in commercial sexual exploitation of children, as well as Participants at the TOTdemonstrate some practices such as interviewing victims especially children, identifying possible victims and risk factors and vulnerability at the source, in transit and at the destination.

To strengthen its efforts at managing this flow, Child Aid Organization Kenya is building the capacity of its partners especially at the community level to effectively understand the basic concepts and terminologies surrounding issues of child sexual abuse and exploitation, identifying victims, recognize the risk factors and vulnerability at the source, in transit and at destination, and identify and communicate with victims of trafficking and sexual abuse.

This training module is easy to apply, visually compelling and engaging, dialogic and enhances accessibility to the information contained in the training modules especially for low literate participants.

Target Population: Komarock Area Residents Association officials, commercial sex workers, teachers, Imams/Pastors, youth, government officials through the chief’s office, employment bureaus for domestic workers, and bar and small restaurants owners.

TOT in Komarock Location Nairobi

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