Sexual abuse of Kenyan women in tea farms

There’s a clique of perverted Kenyan men who believe that women don’t deserve to achieve their full potential without giving up a piece of their dignity. In Kenya today, we already have so many women trailblazers who set the pace of sheer achievement for all to see yet some spoiled apples still remain hell bent to objectify women and subject them to sexual abuse in exchange for God knows what.

Without claiming the title of a Kenyan woman advocate here, if you’re close to a sister, female friend, woman workmate, or female student colleague who have no insecurities, ask them if they’ve had to encounter toxic sexual advances. You’ll be surprised that so many men including those old enough to be grandparents still think that women have to give out sexual favors to be given a pass to rise in their spaces. No wonder the street cliche of mubaba and sponsors is on the rise. The predatory men don’t mind the age or status of the ladies; all them seem to see is sexual objects to exploit for own selfish satisfaction

The case of women sexually exploited by a sex predators in the tea farms just lifted the lid on what Kenyan women have to endure in silence. The burden of being a woman struggling to gain financial inclusion by fending for self and family has been so great on Kenyan women. With broken families, deadbeat fathers, irresponsible husbands, women have braced themselves to take manual jobs like tea picking and what would be otherwise male only jobs.

Sexual exploitation of Kenyan women in teat Estates as exposed by the BBC

Until the BBC exposed the sexual exploitation, these women bore their undignified treatment with great courage. This would explain the limits to which tough economic times have pushed an average Kenyan woman. So chilling is the indecency of the marauding bosses that they have no mercy on these women whose only preoccupation is to earn a living for themselves.

Open secret of Kenyan women being sexually abused in tea farms

In the brilliant and beaming face of a Kenyan woman, nobody can easily see their turmoil and frustrations. In fact,it’s really hard to tell what women go through with just a glance. On the corridors and streets, you’ll meet them dressed up, donned in makeup, and looking so sharp that their killer poise would turn on a normal man instantly. They display the can-do-it attitude and super-defiant trait that makes you think she is the real tough cookie. No. In their fragile heart lies emotional wrecks due to frustrations, pain, rejection, separation, deep-seated longings which surprisingly come from the very men who should otherwise protect them.

The scarcity of jobs in Kenya makes Kenyan women do anything in exchange for a job. Even if it means suffering different kinds of abuse, they will endure it. About 76% of Kenyan women work in the agricultural sector. There, they engage in physical labor with little job security and low pay. 

Saddening BBC expose’ on sexual exploitation on tea farms

Just recently, the saddening news of the sexual assault on Kenyan women in the tea farms went viral. Thanks to BBC Africa Eye and Panorama played the eye-opener. None other than bosses that screw women in exchange for employment does the despicable act. Did it ever cross their minds that such a woman is just trying to fend off a bad economy? They want to clothe, pay school fees, get a roof over their head, put food on the table, and that’s what it means to be called a mother.

The tea farms sexual exploitation has a near similar script to Jaboya system where fishmongers in L.Victoria give out sex to be supplied with fish from the fishermen. It’s a disturbing height of women explication that needs a quick nip on the bud.

I don’t know how you’ll term it, but isn’t that rape? Kenyans and whites alike seem so disappointed in the tea companies where women are abused. The companies include PG Tips, Lipton and Sainsbury’s Red Label. Despite booming in the business to the extent of supplying popular brands like Lipton, Sainsbury’s Red Label, they couldn’t stop for little mercy over these desperate women. Outrageous indeed!

A closer look at sexual abuse in the Kenyan tea plantations

The tea plantations where women are abused are owned by Unilever and James Finlay & Co. Unfortunately, for Unilever, this is not their first time facing such allegations. Over a decade ago, the very same issue of sexual misconduct was reported.

In response, they talked of introducing a ‘zero tolerant’ measure to curb such cases. It means that approach was to put an end to such loathsome behavior. But well, the BBC’s hidden films did expose another of their biggest lies. Through close investigation, the Unilever Company never acted upon such abhorrent cases, despite them reaching their desk.

The shocking revelations from the real victims will surely send chills down your spine. One of them said she couldn’t receive her salary despite working diligently. So to get her hard-earned money from the bosses’ grip, she had to copulate with him. 

Another woman also confessed that in her job search adventure, she made the last stop at a Tea Company where she was promised a job. Only after she’d laid the manager. With a lack of a better choice, she gave in. It’s not only those two women, more than 70 of them affirmed enduring continuous sexual abuse in exchange for favors from their bosses. Another woman also said that she has to say yes to sexual abuse because she has children and cannot afford to lose  the job. 

Repercussions of sexual abuse on Kenyan women in the British-owned tea farms

Somewhere in the site of tea plantations, a ruthless and loathsome caliber of man did the unthinkable to a minor. Can you imagine a full-grown man in his right senses, raping a 14-year-old girl? Is that not ruining the future of such an innocent soul?

Elsewhere, helpless female workers at the tea plantation admitted to fooling around with their bosses for the sake of payment. Eventually, one of them confessed to getting infected with HIV/AIDs while countless numbers bore pregnancy out of it. This supervisor-of-men went nuts for sure.

Reactions of accused tea Companies

Responding to allegations by BBC news, Nathalie Roo of Lipson tea farm expressed shock and dismay. As a female CEO, she said, “I am taking a determined approach to make a meaningful difference for people across the industry, including women’s safety, which is particularly close to my heart”. In the same effect, she announced suspending all managers caught in that mess and launched an independent investigation into them.

Just like Roo, James Woodrow of Finlay Group began by expressing shock toward the allegations. He then went ahead to deny those allegations saying, “There is no place for sexual abuse or harassment anywhere in our business, so this evidence of sexual exploitation at James Finlay Kenya is deeply shocking,”. After this, he mentioned suspending the two individuals caught in the case. Similar to Nathalie, he launched an independent probe to look into the matter.

Effect of the sexual abuse report on the lucrative tea business

Whereas Finlay is all behind the supply chain with top-ranking brands like Starbucks and Sainsbury’s, things turned sour after the BBC’s report. As for Sainsbury’s for instance, it mentioned that ” it will take robust action to safeguard workers” in its tea supply chain.”. Starbucks on the other hand took immediate action rooted in deep concern. It instantly suspended tea purchases from Kenya’s Finlay’s & Co. 

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