COVID-19: Women and girls at increasing risk of sexual exploitation.

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By Albert Nyawawa

Nairobi, July 30, 2020- Awareness Against Human Trafficking (HAART), an organization whose main effort is to help support victims of human trafficking has said that the COVID-19 pandemic will increased the cases of trafficking in persons in Kenya in the coming future.

“Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people are losing their jobs and many businesses are failing. Women and girls are now falling victims and are being exploited further through new ways such as online sexual exploitation,” says Mr. Radoslaw Malinowski, Chief Executive Officer, HAART Kenya’s.

The Organization has launched a report, “Emergency support to survivors of human trafficking in Kenya during Covid-19.

The report says that there are indications that the pandemic will have a huge impact not only on the victims of human trafficking who are currently stranded in other countries, but also on survivors. This is likely to lead to risky and exploitative employment.

Further, HAART analyzed data from a total of 586 victims supported by the organization. 82% of the victims were from Kenya with the rest coming from other countries. According to the report, 87% fell victims to escape from poverty while 7% fell victims to escape from family problems.

“Over 50% of the survivors had rebuilt their lives. Some had started businesses while others had been employed. The survivors have now reached out to us for support due to the COVID-19 pandemic impact on their jobs and Businesses.” Said Mr. Malinowski

According to World Bank, Covid-19 pandemic will be pushing 40-60 million people into extreme poverty and impact two billion people who work in informal sectors worldwide.

HAART Kenya is taking a step to assist victims of human trafficking who have lost their means of livelihood through a campaign dubbed “Let us have a Future”.

“This evening we will hold a concert that will help us create awareness on trafficking in persons and also help us raise funds to support the victims and survivors. Although we can only do much to support the victims and survivors, we urge the government, other organizations and members of the public to help us support these people.” Reiterated Mr. Malinowski.

This year, HAART’s Board Member and Advisor Ms. Sophie Otiende was honored by the US State Department as a Trafficking in Persons Report Hero. She is the first Kenyan to receive such a prestigious award. Ms. Sophie, is also a survivor of human trafficking

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