Ministry of Labour: We are investigating 'sex for work' BBC expose

A tea harvesting machine in one of the farms by James Finlay company. [Nikko Tanui, Standard]

The Government of Kenya is investigating allegations of sexual exploitation at tea plantations operated by two foreign companies.

This follows a report by BBC, which revealed that more than 70 women had been sexually abused by their managers.

Through a press release by the Principal Secretary for labour and skills development Geoffrey Kaituko, the Ministry of labour and social protection says, the two companies are accused of several offenses.

"The companies are also accused of: non-compliance with occupational health and safety regulations, lack of grievance handling mechanism in the companies, transmission of sexually related diseases by senior managers and poor terms and conditions of work.

We take these reports seriously and concerned that such acts could happen. These accusations amount to violation of the law and workers' rights," said Kaituko.

This comes a day after Director of Public Prosecutions Noordin Haji ordered a probe into the matter.

According to the PS, the ministry 'has taken up the matter seriously'.

"We have already embarked on an investigation process. We are engaging all parties involved, that is the workers, the trade unions and the employers to get to the bottom of this matter.

We are working together with the police and other relevant government agencies to address the matter. We will give a comprehensive report on the case as soon as we conclude the investigations," said Kaituko

Dozens of women told the broadcaster they have been forced into sex by their bosses at the plantations owned by British companies, Unilever and James Finlay, for them to retain their jobs.

British High Commissioner to Kenya Jane Marriot yesterday said she is "concerned by the allegations of appalling behaviour made in this documentary" adding that "sexual abuse and exploitation has no place in society."

"I welcome the commitment by the companies to investigate, cooperate with the Kenyan authorities, and take action to protect staff in Kenya." she tweeted.