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Josephine

There are an estimated 328,000 people living in conditions of slavery in Kenya (GSI 2018). Men, women and children are subjected to exploitation amounting to modern slavery in forced labour and sex trafficking. Children are often subjected to forced labour in domestic service, agriculture, fishing, cattle herding, street vending and begging. They are also victims of commercial sexual exploitation throughout the country, in khat cultivation areas, near gold mines and along the highway and Lake Victoria. Moreover, those residing in Kenya's largest refugee camp Dadaab are often vulnerable. Men and women are often lured by employment agencies offering attractive job opportunities, then find themselves trapped in domestic servitude, massage parlors and brothels or forced manual labour.To escape forced marriage, Josephine ran away from home in 2009 and found refuge at House of Hope, a home for rescued girls. She is now a trainee lawyer with an interest in human rights.  

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Helena Kaitira

There are an estimated 328,000 people living in conditions of slavery in Kenya (GSI 2018). While Kenya has committed to eliminate child, early and forced marriage by 2030 in line with target 5.3 of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, 23% of Kenyan girls are still married before their 18th birthday. According to UNICEF, Kenya has the 20th highest absolute number of child brides in the world. Forced child marriage is driven by gender inequality with the belief that girls are inferior to boys. It is exacerbated by poverty, natural disasters and cultural traditions such as female genital mutilation and Samburu whereby a close family relative will approach a girl’s parents with red Samburu beads and place the necklace around the girl’s neck as a form of engagement.    Helena Kaitira was abducted when she tried to run away from her aunt, who was mistreating her. She was hidden in Kenya for four years and forced to marry an older man. With help of her father and Kivulini, she is now back in school. 

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Abuk Garang Thiep

There are an estimated 465,000 people living in modern slavery in Sudan (GSI 2018). Between 1983 and 2005, the central government of Sudan enslaved tens of thousands of black South Sudanese Christian and traditionalist people. It was part of a genocidal war against South Sudan, with a simple aim: to force South Sudan to become Arab and Muslim. Abuk Garang Thiep was taken from South Sudan in 1997 and forced to work for her master, cooking and washing his clothes. Abuk was also subjected to forced female circumcision and forced her to marry an Arab man. Abuk was rescued by a slave retriever but forced to leave her children behind.

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Ayak Piol Mabior

There are an estimated 465,000 people living in modern slavery in Sudan (GSI 2018). Between 1983 and 2005, the central government of Sudan enslaved tens of thousands of black South Sudanese Christian and traditionalist people. It was part of a genocidal war against South Sudan, with a simple aim: to force South Sudan to become Arab and Muslim. Ayak Piol Mabior was abducted from South Sudan with her mother and siblings and taken to the North. Her two brother died on the journey and Ayak was separated from the rest of her family upon arrival. Ayak was subjected to physical abuse and sexual violence on a regular basis. Ayak met a free worker named Rau and secretly became his wife, running away to Rau’s house when she became pregnant.

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Tenneh

Female genital mutilation (FGM) remains widespread across many developing countries and has affected an estimated 140 million girls across Africa and parts of the Middle East and Asia. In Sierra Leone it is considered a traditional practice as part of initiation in to secret women’s societies known as Bondo, with nine out of ten women and girls having been cut. Membership marks a girls’ transition into womanhood and they receive training in their roles as wives and mothers. While FGM is therefore seen as a societal norm, it has internationally been considered a violation of human rights. As a result, the country faces pressure to pass laws against its practice. Tenneh was subjected to female genital mutilation at the age of 8 years old in Sierra Leone in order to prepare her for marriage.

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Pion H

In Tanzania, 4 out of 10 girls are married before their 18th birthday. A study by the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) estimated that 37 percent of Tanzanian women aged 20−24 years were first married or in union before the age of 18, between 2000−2011. Early marriage remains a significant problem in Sub-Saharan Africa, with UNICEF predicting that half of the world’s child brides will be African by 2050. Pion H. was 10-years-old and in her second year of primary school when her grandmother told her she was to undergo FGM and get married.