Women and girls still at risk as the world marks Human Trafficking Day

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BY:Julius Gacheru|Thursday, 30th July

As millions were marking the World Day against Human Trafficking ,extensive concerns are that the Corona virus outbreak has worsened the situation giving traffickers a heyday to prey on willing and readily available victims reeling from the effects of economic meltdown aggrevated by massive job losses, pay cuts and interruption of normal life.

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime, children are vulnerable to the risk of sex trafficking with an increased online presence due to closure of schools.

“Children are at heightened risk of exploitation, especially since school closures have not only precluded many from access to education but also from the main source of shelter and nourishment. Since their schools are closed, many children are increasingly online for learning and socializing. This may make them more vulnerable to online sexual predators.”

The ministry of Labour and Social Protection has from 2018 to date rescued over 1,500 victims of trafficking of various nationalities besides managing to get 61 convictions with numerous other cases in courts.

Unfortunately, women and girls are at the highest risk of trafficking with Women at 49% and girls at 23%.

As most countries continue to fight and illegalize the act, Kenya is at the top of countries that are successfully able to counter the crime.

“we have made major strides in this fight against trafficking in persons guided by the globally agreed upon action plan parameters of Prevention, Protection, Prosecution and Partnerships ” Chelugui said.

In Kenya, frontline responders are grappling with a high number of children in need of rescue, protection and integration amidst a sharpening coronavirus curve and an unrelenting yet expanding criminal landscape of human traffickers eyeing on children for sex and labor trafficking.

“Committed to the Cause – Working on the frontline to end Human Trafficking” is this year’s theme developed to acknowledge the extra ordinary and harsh environment responders are working in to combat the crime, seek justice and protect victims.

“We are marking this day within the backdrop of another crisis which has been created by COVID-19. On one hand we have to deal with the pandemic and on the other we have to deal with the threat of human trafficking activities. As first responders, we find that our work has escalated over nigh. “said Edith Murogo a frontline respondent.