Gay men from Kenya are being trafficked as sex slaves in Persian Gulf countries, according to a report in Identity, a gay magazine in Kenya.
The report alleges that gay and bisexual men are lured from university campuses –particularly from Kenyatta University --- with promises of high-paying jobs and then transported to labor as sex workers for men in the United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
According to the magazine, due to Kenya’s soaring unemployment rate, the men are easily fooled into this trap.
The publication interviewed one Kenyan victim who was promised a job in Qatar but ended up suffering sexual abuse. According to the U.S. State Department, Qatar has no anti-trafficking laws in place and has made no progress in punishing offenders.
“Qatar is a transit and destination country for men and women subjected to trafficking in persons, specifically forced labor and, to a much lesser extent, forced prostitution,” the Department stated. “Men and women from Nepal, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, the Philippines, Indonesia, Vietnam, Sri Lanka, Ethiopia, Sudan, Thailand, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, and China voluntarily travel to Qatar as laborers and domestic servants, but some subsequently face conditions indicative of involuntary servitude. These conditions include threats of serious physical or financial harm; job switching; the withholding of pay; charging workers for benefits for which the employer is responsible; restrictions on freedom of movement, including the confiscation of passports and travel documents and the withholding of exit permits; arbitrary detention; threats of legal action and deportation; false charges; and physical, mental, and sexual abuse.”
Ironically, homosexuality is a crime in much of Africa and the Middle East.
In Kenya, reports of the abuse of gay men by police are widespread.
Palash has worked as a business journalist for 21 years in New York.