Sex for Work: New Headache for Government As International Corporations Cancel Kenyan Tea

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The Kenyan government is facing a new challenge in making sure Kenyan tea maintains a presence in Europe and the United States following revelations a number of multinational corporations, among them Starbucks and Sainsbury’s have canceled James Finlay and Company over sexual abuse at their Kenyan tea plantations.

Unilever and James Finlay, two top UK tea manufacturers on Monday faced accusations of sexual abuse on tea plantations in Kenya, according to an undercover investigation by the BBC. Journalists spoke to 100 women working on plantations producing tea for world-famous brands, for a joint BBC Africa Eye/Panorama television documentary.

Starbucks issued a statement on Monday, saying it was “deeply concerned” and has taken “immediate action” to suspend purchasing from James Finlay and Company in Kenya.

Sainsbury said: “These horrific allegations have no place in our supply chain.” On Monday, it issued a revised, updated statement saying it will “take robust action to safeguard workers” in its “tea supply chain.”

In January this year, President Ruto tasked Deputy president Rigathi Gachagua with reforming the Tea sector which has failed to benefit farmers despite the sector raking in billions of shillings in profit every year.

With this new development, DP Gachgaua will be forced to find new ways of making Kenyan tea marketable in Europe and the US, given their zero tolerance for gender and sexual violence.

The victims who spoke in the BBC Documentary said they had no choice but to give in to the sexual demands of managers or lose their jobs.

One was reportedly infected with HIV by her supervisor. Secret filming also showed that local bosses had sought to pressure an undercover BBC reporter for sex.

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