Uganda remains a source, transit and destination country for men, women and children subjected to forced labour and sex trafficking. Ugandan children as young as seven are exploited in forced labour in agriculture, fishing, forestry, cattle herding, mining, carpentry, bars, restaurants and domestic service. Girls and boys are also exploited in prostitution, with recruiters targetting girls and women between the ages of 13 and 24 for domestic sex trafficking. 54,000 girls under 18 are sex workers in Uganda. Lured by false promises of education and good jobs. Others are escaping poverty, sexual abuse and child marriage.
Janet was 15 when she was forced to marry a man who was 36 years old. Her husband infected Janet with HIV and, ostracised by her family, she ran away to Kampala city. Upon arriving in Kampala, Janet was forced to undertake sex work in order to survive. With the help of Plan International, Janet was able to escape sex work and train to become a hairdresser.
My parents forced me to get married because they couldn’t afford my school fees. He used to force me to have sex with him. We would fight every time, I had no feelings for him.
[Janet ran away from her husband after he infected her with HIV, travelling to the city]
I just drink alcohol to help me get through the sex work. I’m wishing with all my heart to stop doing this work. I’m tired of it. Sometimes I get ready to go, and then I turn around and go to bed.
The prices differ. Without a condom, it’s between 5 and 8 USD. With a condom, men pay less. It’s 3 USD.
My future plans… I already bought a cow and left it back home. I’ll sell it after I graduate from here and use the money to start a hair salon. I’m going to be the first in my family to graduate, and the first to wear a gown. This feeling drives me to work hard for it.
Narrative courtesy of Plan International’s film series highlighting their programme in Kampala, Uganda, to train young women aged 13-24 who are sexually exploited or engaged in sex work.