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BBC Africa Eye’s Latest Investigation Exposes Sexual Abuse on Tea Farms in Kenya
The latest investigative documentary by BBC Africa Eye, titled “Sex for Work: The True Cost of Our Tea,” has uncovered the extent of sexual abuse on tea farms in Kenya.
Reporter Tom Odula spent 18 months investigating the tea plantations, which supply some of the world’s biggest tea brands. The investigation revealed that female workers producing tea for these major brands were coerced into having sexual relations with their bosses in exchange for job opportunities.
More than 70 of the 100 women interviewed reported experiencing some type of sexual harassment while on the job. These women claimed that their managers required sexual favours in exchange for job openings, easier workloads, or renewal of their casual employment agreements. Some of these women have reported getting pregnant or contracting HIV after these sexual encounters. One supervisor stands accused of raping a 14-year-old girl living on the premises of one of the plantations.
Investigators obtained a video that showed a recruitment manager for James Finlay and Company, a Scottish firm, demanding sexual favours during a supposed job interview for work on a tea farm. The undercover investigator, who was using the pseudonym Katy, repeatedly declined his advances, and he eventually acknowledged that she would not engage in sexual activity for employment. After Katy contacted the recruitment manager a week later, he disregarded her messages and blocked her.
After the investigation, James Finlay and Company told the BBC that the employee had been suspended, banned from working at its tea farms, and reported to the police.
In another investigation on a tea farm in Kenya owned for years by British/Dutch multinational Unilever, the BBC learned from women who have worked for the company that they felt they had no choice but to give in to their managers’ demands for sex. The women revealed the names of two Unilever bosses in particular, one, a manager, and the other a supervisor, alleging they demanded sex for work.
Undercover investigator Katy applied for a job at the Unilever tea farm and obtained a video that captured both managers asking her for sexual favours in return for work or lighter duties.
Watch the video below: