A college in Lanet, Nakuru, has denied claims that it is mistreating women.
Twinspur College, which trains women on how to live in the Middle East, specifically Saudi Arabia, has been accused of, among other things, denying them food and freedom.
According to some women at the institution, they have not been allowed to go out since their arrival.
“We are not allowed to leave, even if our children, siblings or parents are sick. We have to conclude our studies before we leave,” said one woman who sought anonymity for fear of reprisals.
The institution, she says, has also delayed the final examinations scheduled for September 12, claiming it was due to the inauguration of President William Ruto.
“The examination was pushed to September 14 but was again postponed and we were told we will do it sometime next week,” she said.
There are claims that about 80 women escaped from the institution by jumping over the fence.
“Some came but did not survive the four weeks. They also had concerns that they may have been duped by agents who brought them here,” said another woman.
The agencies paid the women’s transport from home and training fees. The trainees are from over 36 counties.
One woman said they signed a contract to remain in the institution for one month or in default refund Sh120,000 allegedly spent on them by their agents.
“We surrendered our passport, identity cards and birth certificates and agreed to be in the institution to undergo training. We are trained on how to live with our bosses in Saudi Arabia,” she said.
“When we start talking, our colleagues who feel threatened warn that they will report us to our teachers. Once reported, our teachers threaten to throw us out.”
But the principal, Stanley Mokua, said the college was registered under the National Industrial Training Authority (NITA).
He produced a letter that showed the institution, which has about 221 trainees, was registered on August 11, last year.
“We have been training women in the institution and we restrict movement outside the institution unless their agents approve,” said Mokua.
He said they expect the women to sit their examination on Friday. “We have no other mandate than to train the women. They each pay Sh14,000 for the month.”
The mistreatment claims also caught the attention of the police who visited the college.
Nakuru County Police Commander Peter Mwanzo said preliminary investigations show the school is registered, and no mistreatment cases had been proved.
He said some trainees and teachers had recorded statements.
“We will forward the report to NITA and confirm whether the institution is adhering to the rules of engagement. We did not shut down the institution,” he said.
In fact, some of the women say they are living well, accusing those complaining of impatience.
“Every woman here volunteered to come and everything is provided for free. Those who complain have no patience nor gratitude to our sponsors,” said Galvine Maloba from Kitale in Tran Nzoia County.
The institution trains the women in home care, including domestic chores, operating machines, etiquette and dressing code for Saudi Arabia.
The trainees are also expected to undergo medical test and if they pass, they will be given passports and visas to fly out.
The trainees are determined to try their luck in the Gulf despite incidents of harassment by employers.
“The majority of women who are mistreated did not undergo the training we have done and it may have contributed to how their life turned out,” said Elizabeth Masiza from Vihiga County.
Maloba said she contacted an agency she was referred to by a friend working in Saudi Arabia.
“We are preparing ourselves to live in a stranger’s house without our families, our boyfriends or husbands and it will be difficult to some women, especially those who are impatient,” she said.
Rosemary Nyambura from Nyandarua County said she wanted to follow in the footsteps of her elder sister who has bought land and built a house for herself.
“I cannot provide for my children and my parents, and pay my rent. In Saudi Arabia, if I do a homecare job I will be paid at least Sh30,000 which is fair,” said Nyambura.
She called on the government to ensure there was good relationship between Kenya and Saudi Arabia for the women to be safe when working in the country.