In commemoration of World Day Against Trafficking in Persons, Kesho Kenya and TdH-NL held two successful child sensitisation forums on 31 July 2021 from 8:30 am to 1:00 pm in Kilifi (Watamu Primary School) and Kwale (Kenya Wildlife Service), Kenya. The main aim of the events was to raise awareness on child trafficking to child rights club members. Key issues that were discussed included children’s rights, different forms of trafficking, causes and effects of trafficking as well as how & where children should report cases of child trafficking.
During the highly interactive sessions, the children conducted presentations in front of the various stakeholders. They told stories and shared the importance of seeking guidance from the right people before making decisions. One of Kesho Kenya’s staff members explained the need to protect the children against sex trafficking and sexual exploitation. She also made a point to inform the children about their rights, including their basic rights which they ought to receive from their parents. This echoed that children should not be neglected by their parents. Children were also encouraged to report cases of sex trafficking and abuse to the toll-free number, 116.
The assistant chief urged children to be very careful when it comes to traffickers who often lure victims with promises of job opportunities and a better life. He cited recent incidents in the coastal region where children were kidnapped and then trafficked to other parts of the country where they were subjected to torture and slavery.
In Kwale county, children were encouraged by Kalisto Owara, a psychosocial Officer from the International Justice Mission to be at the forefront and report any form of abuse. They were advised to report abuse incidents occurring at the community level in order to access justice. He further requested the children present to share what they have learnt with others and be advocates for their fellow learners.
Officers from the International Justice Mission encouraged the learners to focus on their education and their goals in life. They mentioned that teenagers, especially girls, are likely to fall prey to trafficking perpetrators who want to exploit them. The boys present were also advised to be vigilant when interacting with people. This was mainly due to the alarming fact that cases of boys being trafficked and recruited into militia gangs and extremist groups were on the rise since mid-2020.
The beacon teacher educated the learners on their rights and mentioned how technology is being used to lure children into trafficking. This was a wake-up call to parents, teachers and caregivers to be keen on the content that learners are exposed to when using digital tools.
By the end of the interactive sessions, the children were more knowledgeable about their rights and responsibilities when it comes to handling child trafficking issues. More club meetings and follow up sessions will be conducted in the near future to raise more awareness and reduce the prevalence of child trafficking and sexual exploitation in Kenya.