2 years on, same story inside the Gulfi sex slave trade: Kenyan men still flown in to service wealthy Sheikhs
Being gay in the Middle East and Africa is largely taboo, punishable by lengthy jail terms and even the death sentence. But over the past two years wealthy Gulf men have reportedly been paying Kenyan men to come to the country to work as their own personal concubines of sort.
A report published in late 2011 by Identity, a gay magazine in Kenya, said that a number of gay Kenyan men are being trafficked into the Gulf countries to work as sex slaves for the wealthy.
“It’s true, I was one of them,” said M., asking that his identity remain anonymous. “I was told that I would be paid large amounts of money to be an escort for a big Gulf man and travel the world. Instead, what happened was I was forced to stay in a home in the Emirates and wait until he wanted to ‘play’ and I couldn’t leave,” he told Bikyanews.com this month.
The report alleged 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.
For M. he was a university student studying graphic design, but has since taken a large sum from the Gulf man after threatening to go public with his story and name names.
“It’s enough that I won’t have to work for the rest of my life,” he said.
According to the magazine, due to Kenya’s soaring unemployment rate, the men are easily enticed into this trap.
The publication interviewed one Kenyan victim who was promised a job in Qatar but ended up suffering sexual abuse.
Qatar specifically, has no laws against human trafficking, which has made cracking down on the practice nearly impossible.
“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 US State Department stated in a recent report.
“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.”
In the Emirates, while being openly gay is illegal, the community has blossomed in recent years. Mark, a gay Canadian man, told Bikyanews.com that “the community has increased dramatically and people are more willing, and accepting, of the LGBT community here.”
But he said the report that Kenyan men are being used as sex slaves is “not surprising.”
“We have seen a lot of the elite and super wealthy want to be gay, but that would go against their traditions, so instead they often marry and then hire or do this kind of thing, to have their real desires met. It is a problem of society not opening up to the gay lifestyle and forcing it to the background,” he argued.
Should Qatar pass laws against human trafficking? What about the Kenyan government? Tell us what you think below.