Sexual exploitation is strongly linked to child trafficking and the worst forms of child labour. Trafficking for purposes of sexual exploitation, is by far the most identified form of trafficking. Child labourers often make the transition into prostitution in order to survive. Specifically girls from very poor backgrounds are prone to becoming victims. Sarah (16 years) from Uganda is a victim of sexual exploitation, as well as child trafficking and the worst forms of child labour.
Sarah hails from an area about 1-2 hours northwest of Uganda’s capital Kampala. She lost both her parents at a very tender age. When she was only 2 ½ years old, her mother died, and Sarah went to live with her paternal grandmother, together with her father and baby sister. She was in her final year of primary school when in 2009 her life took a turn for the worse: first her father passed away, then her grandmother. Even though she had by then completed her primary education with results good enough to join secondary school, there was no one to take care of her, nor her education expenses. Even worse: straight from her grandmother’s funeral, she was taken to Kampala by one of the mourners to be employed as a child domestic worker. She was only 11 years old and all by herself. She ended up in the Bwaise slum area.
As a child domestic worker, Sarah was always assaulted, abused, falsely accused and never paid by her employer. Life seemed hopeless, and one year later she decided to quit her abusive job. A group of girls hanging out in her neighbourhood then introduced her into prostitution. Sarah became a child sex worker at the age of 12.
Sarah, 16 years old:
It was really a pathetic job. Men could rape me and beat me up, some would leave without paying for the service, and others would refuse to use protection. But I had to do it anyway because I had to survive and take care of myself.
Three years later, our partner ANPPCAN Uganda came to her rescue when Sarah was identified during a mapping exercise in Bwaise slums. This meant a new start for the girl: with our support, she was enrolled in vocational training. Psychosocial support and motivational sessions helped her to definitely say goodbye to her work as a sex worker. Sarah graduated as a hairdresser, and found employment in God’s Gift beauty salon. She now earns between € 2.50 and € 3.50 per day – which is about five times as much compared to her daily income as a sex worker.