Finlays Kenya confirms firing of its contractors after BBC’s ‘Sex for Work’ exposé

By , K24 Digital
On Wed, 22 Feb, 2023 09:05 | 2 mins read
Finlays Kenya fires contractors as pressure mounts after BBC’s ‘Sex for Work’ exposé
Finlays Kenya team farms in Kericho. PHOTO/Courtesy

James Finlay Kenya has confirmed suspending two individuals adversely mentioned in a BBC investigative story alleging sexual harassment of casual labourers on tea farms in Kericho.

In a statement on Tuesday, January 21, the international firm said it had terminated its agreement with John Chebochok’s company Sislo Holdings.

Chebochok, who according to BBC was fired before the documentary aired early this week, was captured by secret cameras demanding sexual favours from women in return for jobs on the tea farms.

Terming the testimony of the victims as "deeply shocking and upsetting", Finlays said it has offered direct employment to all 300 contractors who were working with the company through Sislo to ensure their livelihoods are not affected.

The company said John Asava, who was also filmed preying on women workers in exchange for employment, has been sacked.

Finlays noted that both Chebochok and Asava have been barred from entering the company premises.

"There is no place for behaviour of this kind anywhere in our business. We firmly believe that everyone should feel safe when they come to work at Finlays. That is why we have robust policies and procedures in place – such as comprehensive guidance to staff, detailed and continuous training programmes, an anonymous third-party whistle-blowing hotline, as well as dedicated welfare and medical staff available on site – to prevent abuse of any kind," Finlays said in the statement.

Further, the company said Chebochok and Asava have been reported to Kenyan Police for investigation and further action.

"We will continue to work closely with the police, sharing any additional information that results from investigations," the company added.

The firm also confirmed that an independent investigation has been launched to "fully understand what happened and where we can improve".

"This investigation will cover two key areas – firstly, examining the specific cases of exploitation raised within the programme; secondly, where we can improve our approach to preventing and addressing any sexual violence, abuse, or harassment across the James Finlay Kenya sites," Finlays added.

"The first part of the investigation will be led by the Kenyan law firm Bowmans, while the second part will be led by ethical working practices NGO Partner Africa, which specialises in identifying risks to people and implementing robust protection standards."

In the BBC investigation, one woman said she had been infected with HIV by her supervisor, after being pressured into having sex with him.

Another woman said a divisional manager stopped her job until she agreed to have sex with him.

"It is just torture; he wants to sleep with you, then you get a job," she said.

The expose sparked outrage from members of the public and lawmakers who are demanding immediate action against the firm and the perpetrators.

National Assembly Deputy Speaker Gladys Shollei ordered a committee of MPs to complete an investigation into the allegations within two weeks.

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