Wednesday, June 21, 2006


Schoolgirls sold into sex slavery, say Garissa councillors
Story by HUSSEIN ABDULLAHI Publication Date: 06/21/2006

A scam through which girls are lured from school to be married off to rich men abroad has been unearthed in Garissa, North Eastern Kenya.

Ten civic leaders led by Garissa mayor Siyad Osman blew the whistle on the scam, saying that after receiving money, poor parents forced their under-age daughters to be married off to wealthy men in foreign countries.

According to them, at least 200 secondary school students had dropped out of school since last year after they were handed over to suitors through middlemen.

Mr Osman said the girls were being trafficked to the Middle East, southern Africa, western Europe and North America for domestic and sexual servitude under the guise of marriage to foreign spouses.

The civic leaders asked the Government to crack down on the criminals behind the racket.

Newly-posted district commissioner Joseph Imbwaga yesterday said that investigations into the claims of sexual slavery were at an advanced stage and culprits would be dealt with severely.

He said his office had received reports that school girls were being trafficked out of the country by foreigners with promises of a better life abroad. He also said that he would next week hold a baraza to sensitise area residents against the crime.

North Eastern provincial commissioner Kiritu Wamae cautioned gullible parents against marrying off their daughters to strangers.

Reports indicate that middlemen, some of whom are hoteliers in the area, facilitate the selection of the girls and at times parade as many as 50 girls before potential suitors at a local hotel.

After the suitors pick their choice, the transaction is sealed and the down payment of the dowry, locally known as "guff," is made after which the "bride" is officially presented the "suitor".

The DC said high poverty levels and rural-urban migration caused by drought had played into the hands of unscrupulous foreigners who often pick girls from the province on the pretext of marrying them but were only interested in using them as sex slaves.

He said no suspects have been arrested over the cases but urged victims to come forward and report the crimes.