Somali-based terror group al-Shabaab is trafficking Kenyan women, both young and old, as sex slaves, according to a report by the BBC.
The women, both Christians and Muslims, from Mombasa and other parts of Kenya’s costal region, are usually promised well-paying jobs in neighboring towns or abroad but are kidnapped and shipped to Somalia against their will, the report says.
The BBC had a chance to speak to some of the women who have managed to escape captivity.
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“Men used to come and have sex with me – I can’t tell you the number. For those three years, every man was coming to sleep with me,” one of the victims who managed to return home narrated her ordeal.
“They’d bring two or three men for each woman every night. We would be raped repeatedly.”
Some of the victims are forced to become the “wives” of al-Shabaab militants, while others were held as slaves in brothels, the BBC further reveals.
Another victim only identified as Faith for security reasons told the BBC how she was approached by an elderly couple and offered a job in Malindi, another town in Kenya’s coastal region.
Desperate for a job, Faith, who was only 16 years old then, boarded a bus with 14 other passengers who were all given drugged water to drink.
“When we regained consciousness, there were two men inside the room. They blindfolded us with black scarves. They raped us in that room,” Faith narrated.
They were then drugged again and taken to the forest where they spent the next three years cooking for a group of al-Shabaab militants. Faith became pregnant and had to deliver her own baby alone in the forest.
Breeding the Next Generation
Sarah, another victim and a former wife of an al-Shabaab fighter, revealed to the BBC that there is an organized program by the terror group to breed the next generation of fighters. She said they are sending women to recruit other women in Kenya.
Sarah confirmed that most of the 300 women in her camp were from Kenya.
Reports indicate that over the last five years, the Somali-based terror group has recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families bereaved.
A significant number of these recruits are young boys and girls who are tricked into joining the group with the promise of getting paid.
The Kenyan government acknowledges there is a problem and has offered amnesty to some of the returnees who voluntarily present themselves to law enforcement authorities.
For more than two decades, al-Shabaab has been staging deadly attacks in Somalia where it seeks to establish an Islamic State. Neighboring countries like Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia have also had numerous attacks since they sent their troops to Somalia to fight the militants.