Nairobi (Agenzia Fides) – Between 600,000 and 2,000,000 people each year are victims of human trafficking. Among the countries affected by this crime in Africa is Kenya. According to the Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP), a report submitted by the U.S. government every year, Kenya is a point of origin, transit, and destination for men, women, and children victims of trafficking, forced labor, child labor, and sexual exploitation. In particular, children trafficked are employed in domestic work as sex slaves, especially in sex tourism along the coastal area, forced labor in agriculture (eg plantations of flowers exported to Europe), fishing, tending sheep, or are forced into begging. Traffickers, who gain the trust of poor families through family ties, tribal or religious, deceive them by presenting them with the possibility of educating the children in the city or offering women an honest job.
Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART), an organization that falls under Kenyan law on NGOs (NGO Coordination Act of 1990), has been founded to help the victims of human trafficking and create awareness among the authorities and the population on this problem. According to a note sent to Fides, the organization consists of people who have years of experience in social issues, in human trafficking, child labor, and sexual exploitation. One of the most famous founders is Sister Mary O'Malley, of the Medical Missionaries of Mary (MMM), which has been working for 25 years on these issues in the region.
HAART also counts on the great experience of Radoslaw Malinowski who directed the office on human trafficking at the Center for Social Concern (CFSC) in Malawi, and coordinated studies on human trafficking and its impact on security in South Africa for the Dennis Hurley Peace Institute, sponsored by the Southern African Catholic Bishops' Conference (SACBC).
HAART is committed to raising awareness among potential victims of trafficking, especially women and children, creating programs to help victims of trafficking and building alliances with public and private partners to develop policies for reducing poverty, which is the main factor giving rise to exploitation of human beings. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 02/09/2010)