Probe on sex for work in tea estates stalls

Muchangi is leading a team that comprises Mule Kyule (Kangundo), Richard Chonga (Kilifi South), Mangale Munga (Lunga Lunga), Lilian Chebet (County MP Trans Nzoia) and Senator Gloria Orwoba.

They joined the committee as an interested party among others.

The sexual exploitation of tea workers at James Finlay Kenya Limited and Ekaterra (formerly Unilever Tea Kenya Limited) was aired on BBC in an investigative documentary.

The report revealed more than 70 women in the two companies have been abused sexually.

Muchangi said the allegations are serious, and the government is working to ensure those responsible are punished.

"This is a serious matter. The government has all the machinery to ensure the culprits are brought to book, even if the victims fear to come out, we will ensure they get justice."

He said unless the victims come out and cooperate with the security and government agencies, the truth of the matter may not be known.

A week ago, National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gladys Shollei directed the Labour Committee to probe the sexual abuse reports in Multinational tea companies in Kericho and file a report in two weeks.

Kericho Woman Representative Beatrice Kemei requested a statement on the plight of the female workers in tea farms.

She said she was appalled to learn that vulnerable female workers in the tea estates with no other sources of income are being exploited sexually by male supervisors and that the managers demand sexual favours in return for lighter duties.

"It is of great concern that female workers in Kericho county have deplorable working and living conditions and have been victims of sexual harassment and abuse in the hands of male bosses," Kemei said.

She called on the Departmental Committee on Labour to provide detailed information on the allegations of sexual harassment.

"The chair should explain what measures the government is putting in place to protect the rights of female workers in these tea estates," Kemei said.

She further demanded measures the government is putting in place to ensure the tea estates adhere to labour laws and implement policies on sexual harassment.

"It is high time that the rights and dignity of female workers are upheld and respected."

Kemei urged the public to remain calm as security agencies investigate sexual harassment at James Finlay Kenya Limited and Ekaterra (formerly Unilever Tea Kenya Limited).

She said the public should remain calm and give security agencies more time.

"I call upon the public to give our security team time in their investigations into this matter and cooperate," Kemei said.

Kemei added that most of the victims have not come out to record statements for fear of victimisation.

"The reason why these victims haven't recorded statements is that they risk losing their job, but [I urge them to] come out and record statements because we don't want this case to be derailed."

She added: "Even though our investigative agencies have started the probe, many are yet to share their experiences."