Human Trafficking Case Study 2: Akeyo

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Akeyo loves her home and the family she left behind in Nairobi, Kenya, but she could not find a job there, and she didn’t want to marry a man just because she needed the economic security.

After a wealthy neighbour told her that he had relatives living in Montreal who were looking for help in their home, she jumped at the chance. He told her that she would work eight hours a day as a nanny to the family’s three children, and the rest of the time she could spend doing whatever she liked. He also told her that she would live and eat in the house with the family, plus earn $200 a month — which she could save or send back to her family.

The father of the family in Canada, Frederic, told Akeyo not to worry about formal immigration and just fly to Canada on a visitor’s visa. He said he would handle the more formal process later.

Once Akeyo got to Canada, she discovered that she was expected to be on call 24-hours-a-day, not just as nanny to the three children, but also as cook and cleaner for everyone in the household, which included Frederic’s elderly father and aunt.

She was also kept locked in the house when the family went out. She slept in a small room in the basement, with a toilet in the corner and no shower. She was not paid. Frederic took her passport, and his wife, Marta, often abused her if she made a mistake (she has a scar on her hand from where Marta burned her with an iron). When Akeyo complained, Marta threatened her with deportation because her visitor’s visa had run out.

Akeyo managed to escape through an open window one evening when the family was out, and eventually found a local shelter. There, she told the intake workers that she was escaping from physical abuse but refused to say anything else.

 

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