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United Against Child Trafficking: Commemorating World Day Against Trafficking in Persons

August 29th, 2022

Terre des Hommes Netherlands joined the world on 30th July 2022 to commemorate the World Day Against Trafficking in Persons in Kwale and Kilifi County, Kenya. Children and other child protection practitioners shared messages to create awareness against child trafficking and also shared information on reporting mechanisms.

¨The real pandemic is child trafficking. Let´s save our children.¨

Commemoration of WDATIP

In collaboration with children from a primary school in Kwale County, Kesho Kenya and other partners, we held an event to commemorate World Day Against Trafficking in Persons (WDATIP) on 30th July 2022 from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm EAT. Over 150 people attended the event, including children (102 girls and 40 boys).

Terre des Hommes Netherlands is implementing the Building a Future (BAF) project in Kwale  and Kilifi County, aimed at fighting against sexual exploitation of children by improving access to inclusive quality education and sustainable household livelihoods for child victims and those at risk of sex trafficking and skills development for alternative decent employment. Through this event, we sought to amplify the voices of children in creating awareness on issues such as child sex trafficking, affecting many children in the two counties. They also shared ideas on how we can alleviate the problem, once and for all.  

Messages from children

Children expressed their messages on child sex trafficking in various forms, including poetry and on Information, Education and Communication (IEC) materials like t-shirts. Two children from child rights clubs at a primary school in Kwale presented two poems, sensitising their peers on the need for children to be protected from trafficking. During their performance, they were adorned in white t-shirts, with a message on the back  written in Swahili, "Watoto sio chombo cha kuleta mali nyumbani, wazazi tuwajibike,¨ which translates to English as, ´Children are not tools for bringing wealth at home, parents should take up their responsibilities.´ 

WDATIP was commemorated at a primary school in Kilifi County as well. 37 people attended the event, including 30 child rights clubs (CRC) members. Children took part in painting murals with different messages. During the mural painting activity, which the children conducted with the help of an artist from the community, they wrote their dreams and desires. By writing them down, they were in a way making a commitment to work hard in school and achieve their dreams. The event presented a learning opportunity and a chance for the CRC members to share information about club activities and the role that the peer to peer sessions have played in creating awareness on sexual exploitation of children and child trafficking to other children and the wider community. 

Giving her remarks, the CRC vice chairperson gave a brief highlight of the club activities and how they have impacted the children and the community. She stated that during their weekly meetings on Thursdays, they hold discussions on topics such as child sex trafficking, child rights and sexual  exploitation. She added that the knowledge gained from the club has helped the children educate other students in the school during free time and assembly time. Through songs, poems and drama, they also educate their parents and community members especially during meetings and events. 

¨The real pandemic is child trafficking, let us save our children,¨ reads one of the murals. 

The messages shared by children reflected the day´s agenda, as they raised awareness on sexual exploitation and child marriage which are rampant in Kwale and Kilifi County. We are working towards ensuring that these messages continue to positively and sustainably impact parents, relatives, community members and children. To amplify the messages further, reach as many people as possible and leave a lasting mark on the CRC members, 20 schools will receive at least 30 t-shirts each highlighting similar messages.

Messages from child protection practitioners

It is disheartening that the people closest to children form part of the statistics of perpetrators of child sex trafficking. To emphasise this message and caution children against child sex traffickers, Mr. Kalisto, the International Justice Mission representative, advised the children to be on the lookout since enablers of child exploitation are within their households. He emphasised  that they should report in case they are abused or see any signs of abuse. This will be a way of dealing with child abusers and establish a safe community. 

Backing up Mr Kalisto´s message, Adolescent Girls and Young Women from Network for Adolescent and Youth of Africa (NAYA) through the Pride of Shimoni Girls Group, performed a skit informing children that anyone, including close relatives, can abuse them and they should be able to speak up and report cases. The children welfare representative, Mr. Patrick also taught the children the importance of protecting evidence in case they are abused. He gave an example of an abused child wrapping clothes with a magazine or papers (except polythene bags) which can be presented during reporting. In his keynote address, the Subcounty Children's Coordinator from the Directorate of Children's Services,  Mr. Kivuli, emphasised on the toll free reporting channels for the children. Additionally, he advised them to concentrate on their education and disengage from pre-marital sex which results in teenage pregnancies. 

Moving forward, we intend to involve more schools and children and widen our scope among communities in educating and informing more people about child trafficking. 

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