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 targeting 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.
Regina had a child through sex work and was forced to leave her with a friend or by herself while she went back out to work. It wasn’t until she came in to contact with Plan International that she was able to obtain child care for her daughter and leave sex work, learning skills to become a hairdresser.
I went back to sex work 5 months after giving birth to her. I’d leave her with a friend and we’d take turns to look after our babies while one of us went to work. When she turned one, I’d lock her in after feeding her well. I’d go to work at 10pm and return at 2am to find her there, still safe.
I felt so scared to leave her behind but it’s the only option I had to provide for her.
[Plan International set up nurseries for children of sex workers]
I like the centre. They teach the kids well and look after them well. When she comes home from the centre, she’s always happy. She’ll tell me what she learnt there.
It’s important to educate girls because when a girl is educated, she won’s have to do sex work, she’ll be able to get a better job.
After graduating, I started working from home straight away. I haven’t got all the money to start up my hair salon yet. My dream is to have a very big salon where I can dress up people for weddings. But also train girls like me in salon management
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.