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BBC exposé on Kericho tea farms wins Kenyan journalist $5,000 award

'Sex for Work' is a documentary shedding light on the challenging circumstances faced by female workers in tea plantations in Kericho County.

Kenyan journalist Tom Odula Photo: Courtesy

In a powerful recognition of investigative journalism, Kenyan journalist Tom Odula has been awarded the prestigious title of African Investigative Journalist of the Year at the 2023 African Investigative Journalism Conference.

Odula's acclaimed work 'Sex for Work: The True Cost of Our Tea,' which was aired in BBC Africa Eye exposed the widespread sexual abuse prevalent on Kenyan tea farms that supply some of the world's most popular tea brands.

Expressing gratitude, Odula dedicated the award to the survivors of sexual abuse featured in the documentary, applauding their courage to speak out despite the potential risk of losing their jobs.

"I dedicate this award to the sexual abuse survivors in the documentary for the courage to speak out at the risk of losing their only source of livelihood. I hope they inspire others to speak such truth to power," read Odula's acceptance speech.

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Odula received US$5,000 (Sh764,000) as the first winner of the new award which was introduced at the 19th African Investigative Journalism Conference

This accolade adds to the list of recent honours Odula has received for his impactful reporting.

Earlier this month, the Society of UK Editors also recognized him for the same piece designating him as Freelancer of the Year in the Media Freedom Awards.

'Sex for Work' is a documentary shedding light on the challenging circumstances faced by female workers in tea plantations in Kericho County.

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The investigative piece uncovered disturbing incidents of sexual harassment by senior managers, who demanded sexual favors from female employees before their official employment.

Following the release of the documentary, the revelations sparked public outrage, leading to the dismissal of implicated managers by the companies involved. Private investigations were also initiated to address the serious allegations.

The impact of the investigative piece extended beyond corporate repercussions. The matter gained parliamentary attention, with legislators advocating for stringent actions against those exposed for sexual harassment.

While 'Sex for Work' brought widespread recognition to Tom Odula, it was not his first foray into investigative journalism.

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His past works include viral documentaries like 'Night Runners of Homa Bay' and 'Kenya's Hidden Epidemic.'

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