ETP learned this morning that John Chebochok, an alleged perpetrator of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment, has been elected as Director of the Toror Tea Factory (Ainamoi zone) managed by the Kenya Tea Development Agency (KTDA).

Prior to the election, ETP wrote to the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC), KTDA, and the Tea Board of Kenya to express our concern and seek swift and clear action to ensure that apparent perpetrators of sexual exploitation, abuse, and harassment are not able to hold positions of authority.

Whilst it is our understanding that the Tea Board of Kenya called for a postponement to the election to seek clarity on vetting processes, the IEBC rejected these calls and held the election as planned. We are also aware that KTDA urged election oversight agencies to ensure that candidates cleared to run are of good moral standing. KTDA has also stated that they have a zero-tolerance policy on gender-based violence, sexual harassment, corruption, and other such unethical behaviour.

At ETP, we are committed to creating empowered and safe tea communities. ETP partners with KTDA Foundation within many of our projects in Kenya including Empowering Tea Communities in Kenya, Our Tea, Our Voice, and Global Low Carbon Tea. Mr. Chebochok’s election to office stands in direct opposition to ETP’s vision of a thriving, socially just, and environmentally sustainable tea sector.

ETP has initiated dialogue with the KTDA Foundation on this issue – and, together with partners are reviewing our programmes with KTDA.

We urge KTDA to suspend Mr. Chebochok from office immediately.

We encourage our members to respond to this potential human rights risk by reaching out individually and express their concerns to the KTDA – and are on hand to support our members if requested.

Together, we can ensure the best outcome for survivors and prevent alleged perpetrators of abuse from reaching positions of authority.

Notes

At ETP, we are committed to creating empowered and safe tea communities. We work towards a tea industry that prioritises the safety and well-being of women and girls, where they are free from gender-based violence, respected, and empowered to report the issues they face without fear or stigmatisation.

All forms of exploitation and violence are unacceptable and can have lifelong impacts on victims. Gender-based violence and harassment (GBVH) is not only a major human rights violation and public health concern, but it also undermines autonomy and agency, restricts choices and opportunities, and impacts individuals’ ability to participate equally in society.

The problem goes beyond individual actions; it relates to a system that perpetuates physical and economic exploitation and abuse through its structures and practices. To tackle GBVH, it is essential to establish alternative processes that prioritise the needs of women farmers and workers. ETP has been working with partners to tackle these immense challenges.

We have produced a global position paper highlighting the causes of violence and harassment in the tea industry and ETP’s approach to catalysing change, available here.

For more information or interview requests please contact: Brian Lainoff, Head of Communications, ETP, on press@etp-global.org