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.
I went through FGM at the age of nine years. I was (expected) to drop from school then. My dad wanted to marry me off when I was 12 years old.
I felt that my father doesn’t appreciate me. And maybe he doesn’t want me to have a better tomorrow, a better future.
I’m sorry [cries]… My dad realised that my mum was the one who had helped me to run away. So, my dad darted beating up my mum and she went through a lot of hardship.
I realised that maybe I’m alone and I’m fighting a fight that maybe I’m losing.
I’m starting to enjoy the fruits of my labour, the fruits of my hardship. Right now, I’m just happy.
I believe that as days go by, I will be in a better position to influence people, to influence the girls. Especially the girls. Some of them are not aware of their rights. They have to at least be told that they have rights to say not to FGM. They have a right to say no to early marriage. They have a right for education.