Married men turn to child sex workers

Posted on 23 July 2011


By Babra Among
Posted Saturday, July 23 2011 at 00:00

Kampala – Married men are among the top exploiters of children involved in commercial sex, a new report has revealed.

The report titled; Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children in Uganda, published in May, also finds that more teenage girls are engaging in commercial sex, with an estimated 6,000 new recruits in the last five years alone. The report says that the age at which children are engaged in the trade is becoming younger with many getting started at the age of 13 and the biggest conduit to the vice being child trafficking.

Married men account for 42.4 per cent of customers, coming third just after visitors (60 per cent) in an area, single men (58 per cent) and students (44 per cent). Truck drivers and soldiers are also mentioned by child sex workers as some of their top customers.

The girls are usually lured into the business by friends or relatives at a tender age out of dire need for money to cater for their families, pay school fees, buy clothes and shoes, pay rent or buy alcohol.

Although recruitment of children is done by adults, the report makes a shocking revelation that some children, especially those working in bars and lodges are increasingly participating in recruitment of fellow children.

Majority of the children said that they find their own customers at bars and lodges and on the streets or through phone contacts. Other children are facilitated by a well-knit network of brothel owners, pimps, boda boda cyclist and taxi operators. The survey utilised both qualitative and quantitative methods of research. In total, 529 children and 60 key informants were interviewed in 10 districts.

Peanut pay
Frobisha, who owns a dance group in Kireka, a Kampala suburb, said her group has eight girls, with the oldest being 17 years. She pays the girls Shs15,000 whenever they perform and pay between Shs30,000 and Shs50,000 for older girls, normally aged between 19 and 26, who perform what she terms as, “different tasks”.

These children are sometimes made to live in squalid residences where they are congested. A Congolese dancing group owner in Kawempe Division, says a group can be up to 60 children and karaoke dance groups are made up of 10 girls and 10 boys and typically stay together in one room rented by their employer.He said the girls are free to go out with men after their night performance.

The men in this case will pay Shs5,000 to the employer and Shs20,000 to the girl for a full night. The girls, he said, are usually paid Shs3,000 per show, from which they are expected to buy food and go to the saloon. The report reveals that celebrity musicians sexually exploit children in their vehicles for pay.

“Sexual activities take place in musicians’ vehicle with tinted glasses, on club walls and in dark places,” it said.Children interviewed in the report said they are exploited by their managers who also curtail their movements except at work places such as bars, lodges, hotels and homes. The children noted that their pay is often deducted or sometimes held by the exploiters.

“There is no future in prostitution, we feel helpless because prostitution is not taking us anywhere. In many cases, we end up with any man who approaches us because we are desperate to survive,” said a girl in a karaoke dancing group in Kawempe.

“Girls who dance in karaoke groups are forced to remove their knickers and to have sex with patrons and revellers. Some of these men do not pay or instead pay the manager who takes all the money. When you insist to be paid, they insult you, can beat you and force you out of their house,” she added.

The study, however, revealed that 57 per cent of the children interviewed had not thought of quitting commercial sex activities due to lack of alternative skills to seek employment elsewhere. Notwithstanding the high knowledge level of condom use and improved access, the report says that only 4.9 per cent of the children interviewed mentioned that they use condoms each time they engaged in a sexual activity.

Reports by the Uganda Aids Commission indicate that HIV/Aids prevalence rate among sex workers stands at 43 per cent and that commercial sex work is one of the drivers of new infections among the youth.