At least 500 Kenyan girls trafficked to India face arrest as authorities in the Asian country intensify a crackdown on foreigners without proper documentation.
The girls are among illegal immigrants targeted in the crackdown ordered by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) in all 29 states and seven union territories.
Those targeted are foreigners who entered the country from January 1, 2011, to date.
Some of the Kenyan citizens have expressed their fears amid looming punitive action against them.
One of the girls who spoke to Nation disclosed that most of the affected Kenyans are victims of powerful trafficking rackets who moved to India in search of greener pastures but ended up being engaged in illegal businesses in the country.
The woman, who hails from Kakamega County in Western Kenya, disclosed that she was helped to relocate to India by a woman she met on social media.
“I met a woman on social media who brought me here and we call her ‘mother’ as a sign of respect, but the truth is it’s because she owns us. She is the one who organised for me to come to India for a hoteling job. All I ever wanted was a better life and to provide for my family,” she said.
She added, “When I arrived in Delhi, she took me to this apartment and I thought it was to rest up before I report for duty. Little did I know that she had brought me over so that I could sell my body to make her rich.”
The girl, who sought anonymity, later felt that the woman was taking advantage of her and fled Delhi to settle somewhere else.
She revealed that it’s easy for the authorities to locate her and take her into custody.
“I’m afraid of going to our embassy because the people behind this trafficking racket are very powerful and they have a lot of money. They pay police to punish us and lock us in deportation camps until we ‘toe the line’. It’s not like the embassy staffers do not know them, some are very good friends with those who abuse us,” the girl said.
Kenya’s Ambassador to India Willy Bett, however, dismissed the claims, saying the authorities are ready to help.
Bett urged the girls to present themselves at the embassy for evacuation back home.
“We know there are between 300 and 500 girls who were illegally brought to this country. It is usually very difficult to track them down as we do not know where they are but we are here to serve them,” he said.
“We have helped quite a number out of our own pockets as there is no budget for such situations apart from talking to Indian authorities to waive penalties and getting in touch with their families for air tickets. This week I am still going to put up another notice so that they know we are here for them and if they show up, getting a plane to take them back home will not be an issue.
Bett confirmed claims that most of the girls are trafficked into India for illegal businesses.
“They are just caught up in terrible situations and have no one to turn to and when we ask them to reach out to us they don’t. I want them to know that we are here for them,” he said.
A high-ranking embassy official told the local publication that a majority of the Kenyan girls who enter India illegally are lured by Nigerians ‘with the intention of doing illegal and harmful things’.
“They use fake documents or even come in with a two-month tourist visa after which they vanish and when they get in trouble they are so afraid to contact us,” the official who requested not to be named said.