What is Justice?

HAART has been chosen to participate in the Global Learning Collaboration project by Safe Horizon. This project will focus on sharing best practices among organizations in the world that deal with victims of human trafficking. On August 5th we had our first online meeting and the conversation was centered upon the definition of justice for survivors.

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By Rehema Baya/A2ES

I was looking forward to the breaking down of the concept of justice because I am slowly discovering that the definition of the word might be universally the same but it’s meaning is quite different to every person you ask. Therefore, the meaning of justice to victims of trafficking is just not different from mine as a practitioner but also from one victim to the other. This is something that all of us agreed upon. The question then becomes, do you find a common meaning for justice or do you go with the meaning that a victim presents?

When we think about justice, most of us think about the courts and the legal process but it is good to acknowledge that the legal process is a small part of the definition of justice especially for victims that have gone through the kind of trauma that trafficking does. Most victims see justice as the whole process of healing and recovery and reintegration back to society. We all seemed to agree that victims should come first therefore what justice means to them should always be the focus of our work. This is not always easy because we live in communities with systems that sometimes require us to respond in a specific way and that way might require that a victim’s priority will not be ultimate as it should be.

Access to justice through the legal process is a difficult task for most of us in the field of counter-trafficking. The discussions focused on the process of administration of justice for victims of trafficking. It is common practice in criminal cases for the police to want to collect evidence from the victim as soon as they are rescued. This is not easy for a victim who has gone through extreme trauma. In many cases and especially for victims of sex trafficking, their relationship with the police is not one based on trust. Most of them are scared because they have probably been through the system and been abused therefore asking them to trust the police and give their statement is a tall order.

It is also notable in places like Kenya that the police who are responsible for prosecution are not trusted to do the right thing. In most cases even if they are willing to help the complexity of the crime of trafficking makes it impossible for them to meet the threshold of evidence required to prosecute a trafficking case. The question then is should we give up on trying these cases? No, there is definitely work to be done especially with the police to create awareness about human trafficking and prosecuting these cases. It is when prosecuting a case that as a practitioner you discover that partnerships are important not just with each other but also with the government. We cannot give up on prosecution but we can systematically and strategically address some of the areas that we need to improve.

There was a suggestion of trying human trafficking cases as civil suit instead of trying them as criminal cases. Civil suits can be tried at any point when the survivor is ready for the case to be tried in addition any compensation made from the case directly benefits the victim of trafficking. Is this something that we should consider? I think we should. At the end of the day getting justice through the legal process for victims of trafficking should always be a priority for all of us. We don’t always have the means but we have every reason to try and ensure that victims feel that they have received justice after going through our programs.

Sophie Otiende

New Rescue Center for Victims of Trafficking in Kenya

Over the past 2-3 months we have been dealing with a shelter crisis (read about it here) that caused disruption to our work with reintegration and rehabilitation of victims of trafficking. More importantly, it meant we could no longer offer a secure and stable environment for the victims we were supporting. After a lot of work, long hours and tears from our dedicated team, we are extremely happy to announce that from today there will be a dedicated rescue center for victims of trafficking in Kenya. The local Advisory Council and the District Children Office inspected the rescue center and although there were still a few details left to fix such as getting all the furniture delivered, the inspection team was happy with the progress and have given an approval for the center to begin it’s operations.

By Rehema Baya

By Rehema Baya

We will not share the location or announce the staff that work there both to protect the victim and our staff as the Rescue Center is meant to be a safe house and the place will not be open for the public. However, we can say that the rescue center is in a safe neighborhood within 1-2 hours’ drive from Nairobi City Centre. The Centre will have a maximum capacity of 20 female victims of trafficking from the ages 8-18. We still have not decided on a name for the place and although we have some ideas, but if anyone have a good suggestion we are willing to listen.

Now that we are offering accommodation full-time to victims of trafficking if you have anything you would like to donate it would be very well received. Whether it’s monetary or items such as food items, household items, hygienic items, toys or books, we would be extremely grateful. We would like to thank our supporters who donate every month and also thank Bobmil Group who donated 21 mattresses. We are also extremely grateful for our donors such as Misereor, Misean Cara, Walk Free Foundation, Razem Dla Afryki, Mensen met een Missie and Missio Austria who allow us to assist victims of trafficking in Kenya. Lastly, we would also like to extend our gratitude to our UK partner Medaille Trust who have helped us by generously sharing their own shelter guidelines and manuals which has made the transition a lot easier.

Finally, from the management we are extremely proud and honored that we are able to work with such a capable and dedicated team that never wavered and worked extremely hard and diligent to make this rescue center a reality.

We are happy to receive the first residents of the rescue center today!

Shelter Crisis

Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART) is an organization founded as a response to the increasing crisis of human trafficking in Kenya, a cause which it is entirely dedicated to fight. Founded in 2010, it works in the areas of prevention of trafficking, prosecution of trafficking offenders and protection of victims and working with partners in advocacy and policy. Since it was founded, HAART has trained more than 30,000 people in vulnerable and impoverished grassroots community on human trafficking, how to avoid becoming a victim and what someone can do to get help. Primarily through the workshops we have been able to identify and assist victims of trafficking. The assistance is based on individual needs and can be anything from rescue, economic empowerment, medical care, education, psychosocial support, training, relocation and shelter.

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Shelter has always been a challenge for us and other organizations as there are no dedicated shelters for victims of human trafficking in Kenya, but for the past 2 years, HAART has had a working relationship with one shelter in Nairobi that did allow us to bring victims of trafficking with short notice, which is essential in rescue operations. However, due to some regrettable circumstances regarding the care of a child victim of trafficking, we have had to remove all of our beneficiaries from the shelter and find temporary solutions. HAART will not be able to work with that shelter going forward as it is not safe.

We have been able to deal with the crisis by working with different shelters and sending children back to boarding school early. However, these are all temporary solutions until November when the schools close and at the moment we are not able to refer any victims to shelters for protection. This is essential as we are often involved in rescue operations e.g. when a child is rescued from a brothel, early child marriage or domestic servitude in the afternoon it is important that we have place to take the victim immediately.

Since late 2015, HAART has been working on raising funds to first buy land and then build a shelter. We felt back then that it was a real need in Kenya, and we are even more committed to it now. However, time has run away from us and we can no longer wait to raise enough money buy land let alone build a shelter. We need a safe temporary place for victims of trafficking by 1st November as we continue to work on a long-term solution. We are therefore appealing to anyone who can help, to assist us either with funding, second hand furniture and housing items, food and if possible land or a house (either donated or lent).

We are confident that the expertise and capacity HAART has built in the area of protection of victims of trafficking over the past 6 years, and in particular the knowledge we gained from handling the biggest human trafficking case in Kenya’s history in 2014 and 2015 when we successfully rescued 31 trafficked Kenyan women from Libya in collaboration with the International Organization for Migration and the Kenyan Ministry of Foreign Affairs will enable us to provide both protection and holistic care for the victims of trafficking in our care. For this new temporary rescue center, we would have to recruit additional staff, but the new recruits will be trained and supported by HAART’s existing both experienced, knowledgeable and passionate staff.

It will need a concerted effort if we are ever to eradicate human trafficking. Please remember the words of the famous 18th century abolitionist William Wilberforce who was instrumental in ending slavery:

“You may choose to look the other way but you can never say again that you did not know.”

 

The Promise

The One Human Family, One Voice, No Human Trafficking conference in Nigeria

On 5-7 September 2016, more than 150 people gathered in Abuja, Nigeria representing different faith based organizations, NGOs and international organizations from more than 40 countries. The occasion was a conference on human trafficking in Africa, hosted by Caritas Nigeria and organized by Caritas Internationalis and the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant People. HAART had taken part in the preparation as a part of the working and was at the conference represented by Sophie Otiende and Jakob Christensen. HAART furthermore was able to bring a small sample of its Arts to End Slavery exhibition to the conference.

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The conference was held in Abuja the capital of Nigeria.

The One Human Family, One Voice, No Human Trafficking conference was a chance for stakeholders to take stock on the growing crisis of human trafficking in Africa, discuss solutions and best practices as well as providing for an excellent networking opportunity.

Some of the issues discussed in the conference was the different faces of human trafficking which robs its victims of their humanity and dignity and shows itself in different ways in labour exploitation, sexual exploitation and organ removals among others. It is a global problem that affects millions men, women and children in every country in Africa. Although human trafficking is illegal in all 54 African countries, there have so far not been any effective pan-African integrated efforts to combat it. The efforts are usually isolated and not coordinated. The conference was a first effort towards better cooperation within and across borders. Religious institutions offers an excellent avenue and partner in the eradication of human trafficking due to its vas organizations, longevity and shared values. This was affirmed by Cardinal Luis Tagle, Caritas Internationalis president, who urged the church to be the conscience of society.

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Jakob Christensen (Right) presented a paper on Forced Labour in Africa

At the conference there were survivors of human trafficking who shared the stories of what their experiences had been. Among them, were Sophie Otiende from HAART Kenya who gave a powerful statement on how human trafficking had affected her and how it could have been easily have been prevented. It was a statement not only about victimization and suffering, but also about surviving and not being allowing the exploitation to define her. And she was a testament to how survivors are strong and poses transformative powers to help others in similar situations. She urged everyone to look beyond the surface of our everyday lives as victims are oftentimes hiding in plain sight, which is something that traffickers take advantage of.

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Cultural dance by a local group

As human trafficking continues to rage on in the African continent with its millions of victims, robbing many societies of their most precious resources, its people. The delegates at the conference worked on a joint statement building on the declaration of Pope Francis and other world leaders in 2014. The statement urges the governments of the world to adopt better laws of human trafficking as well as proper implementing and to reaffirm that human trafficking is a crime against humanity and:

“…commit to collaboration and common action aiming at preventing and eradicating the scourge of human trafficking and exploitation of human beings and upholding human dignity.”

By Jakob Christensen

Can men be trafficked?

What is the role of adult males in trafficking? Are men predominantly perpetrators or victims of human trafficking? Can a full-grown man even become a victim of a situation in which he finds himself unable to free himself from exploitation through another person? If you are a regular visitor of this blog you will notice that (unintentionally) the victim stories on here so far are mostly dealing with the exploitation of women and children – with most acts seemingly committed by men.

All in all, the stories on here as well as the statistics in many research papers on human trafficking appear to suggest a higher prevalence of male perpetrators on the one and female victims on the other hand. Thus, what brings about this apparent discrepancy between the genders in terms of their numerical representation in trafficking? Is it a matter of males being in a stronger position to exploit due to physical strength and patriarchic societal norms? Are contemporary civil societies simply oblivious to or unsympathetic towards the plights of adult men suffering in exploitative situations? Is exploitation of adult males maybe generally under reported?

I am raising many questions here and none of them can be satisfyingly answered without being addressed in an encompassing and appropriate context. For instance: Clearly, a number of men are generally able to exert enough power to forcefully abduct and intimidate (and thus control) another person through their sheer strength, while the same likely cannot be said of an equal number of women. What global research on trafficking as of now suggests though, is that human trafficking, for the most part, takes place through deceptive recruitment, not kidnapping. Without wanting to start a discussion on which gender can be considered more deceptive, it can be asserted that manipulation generally is a game both men and women can play, thus indicating that both men and women should command about equal potential to be traffickers.

A probably very decisive factor to explain varying numbers of male and female trafficking victims within a given context is actually the market demand for the respective services and commodities a trafficker can satisfy through his or her actions. Just as is the case with legal services and goods, these demands and their supply vary on a local, state, national and regional level. Demand is furthermore subject to demographic, cultural and especially legal factors that limit the availability of the supply side.

This leads us back to patriarchal societal norms: For various reasons that are too numerous to address here, prostitution and pornography have historically been predominantly female dominated businesses, mainly due to demand created through heterosexual males. Similarly, certain other, non-sexual labor branches such as housekeeping are also typically more frequently carried out by women. When research teams explore these phenomena, they naturally find that women are more strongly affected by trafficking than men. This numerical overrepresentation then easily leads to the underrepresented side being marginalized in future research and funding to mitigate issues of human trafficking being diverted grossly towards one demographic group.

However, gendered job markets do not create a situation in which one gender (women) is being exploited and another (men) is strictly not. Surely, the vulnerability of men and women within their respectively dominated fields of labor as well as the prevalence of the particular forms of exploitation they are subjected to may vary. Yet, that does not mean that adult men cannot, for instance, fall victim even to sexual exploitation. In this respect, the practices that male victims typically encounter may also strongly differ from what is generally imagined to constitute sexual exploitation. However, sexual abuse comprises more than just a man or woman enforcing the performance of penetrative or receptive forms of sex from a victim. It can also comprise, amongst other things, various sadistic practices such as inflicting pain, as well as urination and defecation on a person’s body for the purpose of arousal through humiliation and degradation. Within such contexts, the victim’s gender can become secondary or maleness can even become an added value from a viewpoint of dominating an actually physically superior or equal person.

While such forms of exploitation present niches even in trafficking, sexual exploitation, as with women, may coincide with other forms of trafficking, such as for the purpose of labor exploitation. The reason why men then do not elude these sort of situation is often the same as with women and children: their lives or those of their loved ones are threatened, they are financially or otherwise dependent on the person who exploits them or they are held captive, to name just a few. In addition, there are psychological factors pertaining to male gender roles that may add to men opting to remain in exploitative situations. Examples include shame over not having received the expected monetary compensation, a sense of obligation to cater for the needs of the family at all costs and a general view of men having to go through hardship to get ahead in life.

There is much more to be written about the subject, which would however ultimately exceed the limits of a single blog entry. Bottom line, though, I want to express that I feel research organizations and civil society have to gear up to get men to speak out about human trafficking. In encouraging them to speak out, male survivors can help to de-normalize exploitation through other men. More male voices could furthermore aid in demystifying stereotypical gender roles and add to the understanding of exploitation and trafficking through women. Most importantly, in the end, they would do themselves and other men a service by ensuring to become acting agents rather than just staying victims of trafficking.

By Mario Schulze

They almost had me

‘Lucky’ is one word I have used many times before in my life but this time I thought I would never use it again. I never got to meet my parents, I never got to see how they looked like. At a tender age my parents died and left me alone in this world, I was then shipped off to live with my grandmother an elderly woman who lacked the capacity to take care of me but was willing to take me in. I was only three years when my grandmother took me in. I did not get proper care and there are many time s, I would wander off in the village alone crawling on the road until someone noticed me and took me back to my grandmother. Due to the neglect I never got a proper diet and the nourishment that is essential for a child’s growth and this led to me developing a diseases “Osteomalacia and Rickets” which for some time caused partial paralysis and I could not walk for a while.

ArtWork-21 (Medium)

By Nicholas Asao Gaitano

Days went by but nothing changed until a good Samaritan whom I would later come to call ‘Danny’ Dholuo for grandmother saw me crawling in dirt all alone and decided to intervene but since I was far from home and could also not speak well she decided to take me with her to Nairobi and raise me as her own. She stood by me as I underwent months of physical therapy until I was now able to walk and talk. By this time I was now old enough to join school. She stood by me and made sure I went to school every day, she still reminds me to this day how she would carry me on her back when it rained so that I did not dirty myself as I went to school and how we fell in the mud once.

I finished my primary school and passed scoring 371 marks which qualified me to join a national school. Unfortunately, my guardian fell sick and was also really old. She decided that now I was old enough to know who my family was she then proceeded to ask and try to trace my family so that I would be reunited with them. It is then that I came to learn I had an aunt who lived in Kibera. She wanted me to get to know my family well and promised to take me to school as soon as the school year begun but this was not to be as soon we got to her house I was declared an enemy of the public I was not to speak to anyone or even move out she then told me that I would now help her make money by washing clothes all day and giving her all the money I got.

Before I even started I ran away to my neighbor’s house who was able to get me help from an organization called Polycom that deals with girls rights and is based in Kibera. I was taken to the chief’s office who then decided to give me back to my aunt and this time she decided that since I could run away at any time, it would be better to hide me with her brother who lives in Kitengela. However, that was just a decoy for her to take me back to my grandmother in the village where I would now be the one responsible for taking care of my aged grandmother. It wasn’t long before the organization that helped me before reached out to HAART and explained my situation. Together with the chief from Siaya they were able to rescue me and bring me back to Nairobi where I was placed in a shelter and now I am in school studying hard and pursuing my dreams of becoming an architect. I believe that this is now my opportunity to show those that invested their time and effort in rescuing me that they did not waste their time and resources.

By Abel Mogambi