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Charlotte

2017 (Narrative date)

There is an estimated 304,000 people living in modern slavery in Uganda (GSI 2018). Children are exploited in forced labour in agriculture, fishing, forestry, cattle herding, mining, stone quarrying, brick making, carpentry, steel manufacturing, street vending, bars, restaurants, gold mining, and domestic service. Traffickers exploit girls and boys in commercial sex and recruiters particularly target girls and women aged 13-24 for domestic sex trafficking, especially near sports tournaments and road construction projects. Children were targeted by the Lord’s Resistance Army, a Ugandan rebel group that originated in 1987 in northern Uganda among ethnic Acholi communities. When civilian support for the LRA waned in the early 1990s, they group because increasingly violent. According to Human Rights Watch, the abductions of children was one of the LRA’s hallmarks. They were predominantly used as porters but were also forced to undergo ‘military training,’ and girls were forced to become ‘wives’ of LRA fighters.

Charlotte was abducted from her school in Aboke, Uganda, by the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA), at the age of 14. She was among 139 girls held in captivity to be a child soldier and a sexual companion for the LRA’s men. One of her overseers was Joseph Kony, who told these young girls that he was the second coming of Jesus, and made them believe he was a good, righteous man.

Weak girls suffered more. We were distributed to rebel commanders as objects without rights and we were sexually abused. We had to carry very heavy loads, cook and do other duties included digging in the gardens in the rebel camps. I was given to a man who had 20 other abducted girls, and he was a brutal man and I had to travel with him.

I was in captivity for seven years and ten months, and I escaped in the year 2004, when the rebels had come back to Northern Uganda. I could take months talking about what I went through and what I saw, but I must be brave… So I will tell you what I think should be done to help others like me.

The affected people should be given support to recover psychologically. They should be given counselling, accepting them back to the community. They should have physical support, health provision of basics like shelter and others. They should be given educational support. There should be protection. Where each member stayed should protect its citizens, and especially the vulnerable woman and children during wars and conflicts.

 

Narrative source Youth Underground, a non-profit organization dedicated to preventing human trafficking through youth education, awareness-raising and advocacy.

Original narrative can be found here:

https://www.facebook.com/YouthUnderground.CH/posts/1528318817203588