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New research gives voice to victims of human trafficking

New research from Leeds Beckett aims to make permanent changes to policy in Kenya on the prevention of human trafficking and the protection of human trafficking victims.

Dr Rachel Julian

The research, led by Dr Rachel Julian in the Leeds School of Social Sciences, will uncover new insights into the impact of human trafficking by documenting the real-life experiences of victims and uncovering the patterns and opportunities for new approaches to countering human trafficking in Kenya.

Dr Julian explained: “The true extent of lives destroyed and communities broken because of the growing human trafficking challenge in Kenya is not fully known. National policies are not being implemented and the complex impact on people, communities, economic development and conflict is not systematically documented. There are gaps in data and not all victims are given victim status, further complicating the picture.”

Kenya is internationally recognised as a source, transit, and destination point for human trafficking. To attempt to tackle this, the project will send findings to the Strategic Development Goals interest group of Kenyan MPs.

Dr Julian said: “If policy development is to be effective, there is an urgent need to understand human trafficking streams and bring the voices of victims and those at risk into the policymaking process; and our project aims to influence rapid changes and improvements for victims.”

Collaborating on the research is Haart Kenya – a highly respected non-governmental organisation focused on countering human trafficking and helping its victims. Their victim assistance programme has documented more than 500 cases of human trafficking to date.

Dr Julian added: “By collecting the experiences of victims and those at risk of human trafficking, our research will discover the nature of harm and injustice in human trafficking, as well as the support and protection needs of the victims.”

The research has been funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and will culminate in the production of films, an exhibition and research papers.

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