Slum graffiti warns Kenyans about trafficking risks

Nairobi – Brutal images of a woman cowering as a man beats her and of a terrified girl in chains sprayed on the walls of Kenya’s Mathare slum bring a hidden crime into view – human trafficking.

There has been a awareness campaign to tackle modern day slavery. The graffiti scenes in the capital’s second largest slum are part of a series of pictures, paintings and poems curated by the charity HAART Kenya to get a conversation going about modern slavery.

“Trafficking is all around us but people just don’t see it,” said Winnie Mutevu, a project officer with the charity, which supports survivors, many of whom were kept under lock and key and sexually and physically abused.

“A simple picture or graffiti showing one of the many forms of slavery can be a powerful way to catch people’s attention.”

According to the US State Department Kenya has become a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children who are trafficked into forced labour and sexual slavery.

The targets are usually children, most of them young girls who are often trafficked from Kenya’s poverty stricken villages to towns and cities for domestic labour, sex work, street-vending and begging because of lack of education and economic reasons.

Kissmart Bakra from Margaret said that human trafficking is particularly rife in impoverished slums. Bakra is a musician and is an anti-trafficking ambassador for HAART Kenya.

“When you’re poor and unemployed, it’s easy to be tempted by someone selling you a dream job,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation from a corrugated iron shed in Mathare. “But if the job seems too good to be true, then it probably is.”

The charity over the years has enlisted the help of painters, street artists and musicians like Bakra to create representations of human trafficking and this work has created an annual exhibition.

The World Bank says that high fertility rates including rural poverty and land scarcity, drive more than 250 000 Kenyans into cities each year, their report also predictedbthat the majority of Kenyans will live in urban areas by 2033.

Photo Credit- African News Network | ANN

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