Alleged blackmailer Hillary Oleshawa

Nairobi police are reported to have finally arrested a man who has been blackmailing gay men in Kenya over the past two years, an all too common occurrence in Africa.

According to Identity Kenya, Hillary Oleshawa was arrested on Monday night following a tip-of from the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (NGLHRC).

The group told Identity Kenya that Oleshawa has been using dating and social networking sites to lure gay men, allegedly abducting them and extorting money and property from their family and friends.

Using threats of exposing the men as gay and threatening violence against them, he is alleged to have demanded cash and robbed his victims of cell phones, jewellery and other valuables.

A recent alleged victim was an 18-year-old high school student who Oleshawa is accused of detaining and threatening with violence in order to force him to surrender his account details.
He also is alleged to have threatened to out him as gay to his school and parents if he did not give Oleshawa cash.

It is believed that Oleshawa has been working with two other men who also target gay men and men who have sex with men.

NGLHRC told Identity Kenya that these kinds of crimes have been on the rise in recent years.

Due the wide criminalisation of homosexuality and because it is a social taboo, gay, bisexual and men who have sex with men are especially vulnerable targets for criminals in Africa.

A 2011 report by the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission (IGLHRC) revealed that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in Africa are regularly blackmailed and extorted because of their sexuality.

Officials in positions of power have been accessed of often failing to prosecute blackmailers and of instead charging LGBT victims under sodomy laws when they do find the courage to report blackmail to the authorities.

A recent report by the City Press newspaper also uncovered cases of blackmail of gay men in South Africa.

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