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Aggrey Juma is an attorney who has served with IJM since October 2015 when he joined as a System Reform Fellow. He subsequently served as Program Attorney, and Policy and Advocacy Manager. In January 2021, he transitioned to his current role as Senior Manager in charge of IJM Operations in the Coast Region of Kenya based in Mombasa. In this capacity, Aggrey oversees projects aimed at addressing violence against women and children including child sex trafficking.

Tell us about the work of IJM Kenya

Since 2020, IJM has worked on cases of child sex trafficking along the Kenyan coast. The project, which is now in its fourth year, was launched after two decades of work on sexual violence against children and police abuse of power in Kenya.

The focus is to ensure the well-being of the families affected by this crime, the swift conviction of all perpetrators involved and the strengthening of the public justice system to protect the most vulnerable in society as well as restoring survivors. (Read about the first child sex trafficking case IJM Kenya worked on)

How well-known is child sex trafficking within Kenya?

The Counter Trafficking in Persons Act, which is the law that allows us to address trafficking, remains largely unknown, even within the criminal justice system, despite being in effect since 2010. At the station level, many police officers would see a case of child trafficking and pursue them under the Sexual Offenses Act, which complicates holding facilitators accountable. IJM Kenya works to change this by identifying and prosecuting all involved in child sex trafficking cases.

What is the Kenyan government doing to address child sex trafficking?

Kenya has made significant efforts to develop a blueprint for child protection. However, the biggest challenge is to ensure that the protection mandated by the law is actually put in practice to protect vulnerable children and women.

A focus of IJM Kenya's initiative is to bridge this gap by ensuring that the public justice system is very responsive, not only in addressing the trauma experienced by survivors but also in providing them access to justice and restoration.

What sentences do perpetrators receive for child sex trafficking in Kenya?

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The length of a sentence for a crime can range from 12 years in cases of defilement to a life sentence. The severity of the sentence is determined by the gravity of the crime, especially the age of the victim and the circumstances around the crime. The law tends to impose harsher penalties on individuals who have a responsibility over the children and when children are younger. (Read the case of a sex offender sentenced to 100 years in prison for sexually abusing four minors under his care.)

What are challenges you face addressing the demand side for child sex trafficking in Kenya?

  • The participation of caregivers: Detection becomes a challenge when a parent is involved and facilitated trafficking their children.
  • Short-term rentals: There have been some interventions around hotels to identify these crimes, but the level of regulation is limited with Airbnb and other short-term rentals.
  • Many of those abuses happen in private environments: without the whistleblowing of victims or individuals involved, pursuing these cases can be difficult.

What’s the process of restoration for a survivor of sex trafficking?

Because of the nature of the crime, survivors often carry emotional scars with them for the rest of their lives. However, IJM Kenya is dedicated to pursuing restoration for each survivor, which involves:

  1. Trauma counselling.
  2. Livelihood support to remove them from a vulnerable environment
  3. Pursuing justice in court to hold perpetrators accountable.
  4. After we have concluded the case and the survivor has gotten to a place of restoration, we check in with them two years later to ensure that their restoration has been sustained and offer further support if needed.
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What is IJM Kenya’s role in achieving IJM’s vision to protect half a billion by 2030?

IJM Kenya has made great strides to achieve protection, including being a member of the National Council on Administration of Justice (NCAJ), which provides an opportunity to influence policies that protect child sex trafficking victims. Over the years, we have provided a platform for survivors' voices to be heard through the Kenya Champions for Justice. Survivors are being heard in court when giving testimony and through storytelling, which is now a powerful tool for sensitization, empowerment and advocacy.

How can you support IJM Kenya in protecting children from sex trafficking?

A gift of CA$260 covers the daily cost of supporting one victim in court. Typically, a case has 10 court sessions spread over 3-4 years.

A gift of CA$800 funds one year of boarding school for one child. This is crucial for the child’s restoration and reintegration into that community of peers.

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Your support can enable so much work in helping IJM tackle child sex trafficking in Kenya.

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