During a recent meeting in Kisumu which brought together all the Priests, Deacons, Religious Men and Women working in the Archdiocese of Kisumu, there was a very informative session concerning issues of human trafficking. This Session was facilitated by Mr Juma Edmunds, a staff working for an association dubbed Religious Against Human Trafficking (RAHT-KENYA). RAHT has a mission to uphold human dignity at all costs from modern-day slavery to freedom by collaborating in eradicating human trafficking. What they envision is inspired by the mercy of God, that is, a world free from human trafficking. As they carry out this mission, they aim at 5Ps, that is Preventing, Protecting, Prosecuting, Partnering, and Prayer.

As Mr Juma made his presentation, it became clear that human trafficking is the trade of humans for the purpose of forced labour, sexual slavery, or commercial sexual exploitation. This crime can occur within a country or trans-nationally. He emphasized that it is a reality that is silently closer to us than we could imagine. He reiterated the role that the Priests, and the Religious Men and Women have in keeping themselves and everyone else from human trafficking.

There is a difference between human trafficking and human smuggling. In human trafficking, the victim usually doesn’t know the intention of the one trafficking him or her. In the case of human smuggling, the person being smuggled has consented to that act. There are several factors that push a smuggled person from his/her home and pull him/her to another place. However, there is a thin line separating the two crimes but most cases of smuggling end up as trafficking once the smuggled reaches the destination and the dream is not realized, making him/her vulnerable and unsuspecting any danger that comes in the pretext of help. He used some volunteer participants to demonstrate how human trafficking occurs perpetrated by even close members of the family. Another surprise was that even the Religious, especially Nuns have often fallen victims of being trafficked. It was pointed out that several dubious Congregations from Spain have lured a number of Aspirants to join them and only end up as being forced into sex workers in a foreign land. With the help of Religious Against Human Trafficking, a number of victims have been rescued. The success of such rescue operations have been due to strong partnership that they have with other organizations like Counter Human Trafficking Trust – East Africa (CHTEA), HAART-Kenya, Sema Nami, and Kituo cha Sheria.

Present in the engagement was the Archbishop of Kisumu, Most Rev. Maurice Muhatia Makumba, who emphasized that one way of promoting social ills like Human Trafficking and LGBTQ+ is by REMAINING SILENT and failing to talk about it. He urged the Priests, to use the power of the pulpit to voice the social concern of the Church on such issues.