Sex predators prowl tea plantations of beloved British brands: 70 women at Kenyan farms behind PG Tips, Lipton and Sainsbury’s Red Label say bosses have sexually abused them – with one ‘given HIV after being forced into sex’

  • A BBC investigation has uncovered widespread sexual exploitation 
  • An undercover BBC reporter was asked to take her clothes off by a recruiter 

This is the horrifying moment a Kenyan boss tried to force a woman to have sex with him in return for work – as an investigation uncovered widespread sexual abuse on tea farms.

BBC reporters found that women had been pressured into sex at farms supplying PG Tips, Lipton, Tesco and Sainsbury’s – with one victim being infected with HIV.

An undercover journalist was invited to an interview in a hotel room where she was quickly asked to start touching James Finlay & Company recruiter John Chebochok who instructed her to take her clothes off and ‘lie down’.

The victim, called Katy, was wearing a secret camera and was pinned against a window by the recruiter as she kept saying: ‘I haven’t consented’.

He said: ‘Touch me. Just touch me a bit. Just consent. I’ll give you some money, then I’ll give you a job. I have helped you, help me. We’ll lie down, finish and go. Then you come and work.’

Tea plantation recruiter John Chebochok was filmed telling a prospective employee she should take her clothes off and ‘lie down’ if she wanted work, telling her: ‘I have helped you’

The victim, called Katy, was wearing a secret camera and was heard saying, ‘I haven’t consented’

A BBC team in the hotel then called her on her mobile so she could escape. 

The joint investigation by BBC Panorama and BBC Africa Eye found that more than 70 women who work on the plantations had suffered some form of sexual harassment at work. 

The victims worked on plantations owned by consumer giant Unilever and James Finlay.

One woman claimed she had been infected with HIV by her boss, who demanded sex. Another victim said a manager cancelled her work until she agreed to have sex with him.

She said: ‘It is just torture; he wants to sleep with you, then you get a job’. 

Another woman was forced to comply and said afterwards: ‘I can’t lose my job because I have kids’.

James Finlay & Company recruiter John Chebochok was filmed telling her: ‘Just consent. I’ll give you some money, then I’ll give you a job’

Katy, who was pinned against a window, said afterwards that she was ‘scared and shocked’

An undercover investigator was also harassed at a tea farm which, at the time of filming, was owned by British Dutch company Unilever

She said afterwards: ‘I was so scared, and so shocked. It must be really difficult for the women who work under Chebochok’. 

Following the investigation, James Finlay &  Co told the BBC it has suspended and barred the employee from its tea farms and reported him to the police.

The company also told the broadcaster that it is investigating whether its Kenyan operation has ‘an endemic issue with sexual violence’.

James Finlay & Co is the second largest tea company operating in Kenya’s Rift Valley, and supplies tea to Sainsbury’s and Tesco supermarkets.

Responding to the findings, Sainsbury’s told the BBC the ‘horrific allegations have no place in our supply chain’ while Tesco said that it is in ‘constant dialogue’ with the company to ensure ‘robust measures’ are taken.

Separate video shows two managers sexually harassing an undercover investigator at a tea farm which was, at the time of filming, owned by British Dutch company Unilever.

Unilever told the BBC it is ‘deeply shocked and saddened’ by the allegations. It added that any employees who breached its Code of Conduct have been dismissed, and any criminality reported to the police.

  • The investigation for BBC Panorama, Sex for Work: The True Cost of Our Tea, airs on Monday on BBC One at 8pm and on BBC iPlayer.

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