I had never imagined engaging in prostitution. But for about four years, I have been involved in this business which no-one respects.
KAMPALA - I had never imagined engaging in prostitution. But for about four years, I have been involved in this business which no-one respects.
I joined prostitution when I was 15, after I dropped out of school in Senior Two following the death of my father.
We were living in Bwaise, a city suburb and my mother owned a bar. She got herself a teenage boyfriend, who would spend nights at our home.
At first, there was no problem, but later my mother became suspicious and felt insecure with my presence.
One day, she told me to keep off her boyfriend. Whenever he came home, she would belittle me before him.
With time, we started fighting and whenever we fought, we would attract the neighbours’ attention. In anger, I left home and started living with friends in the neighbourhood.
We were eight people staying in a rented room. We had a leader who ensured that each of us contributed to the rent. We were paying sh10,000 each per month.
Anyone who failed to make her monthly contribution was thrown out of the house. To sustain myself, I worked in bars and performed in Karaoke groups over the weekend.
But my income was still meagre.
I admired my friends who were living large, but working less. They were prostitutes in Kimombasa, Bwaise, who only worked in the night and rested during the day.
One evening, my friends lured me to the streets. For the last four years, prostitution has been my source of income. But it is a hell of a job!
In spite of HIV/AIDS, prostitutes have no say on condom use.
If you insist that he uses a condom and he does not want it, he will just drag you to the bed. For some clients, you settle for a higher amount if he wants to go live.
At times when you build trust in a common customer, you can do without a condom.
The other challenge I faced was being treated like a commodity. To select the best out of the group, the customer touches you anywhere.
You are treated like an avocado on the stall. After deciding you are worth taking, the customer takes you anywhere.
And after he has had sex with you, he does not want to see you anymore. He does not care how you travel back in the night.
Many times when I worked very late, I would spend the night in a dancing hall and find myself spending the money I had earned.
Other customers would take long to ‘finish’. You may settle for a deal of 30 minutes but he takes one hour and refuses to pay for the extra time.
Prostitution has also attracted young children who run away from their homes when they harassed by their step-mothers end up on streets as prostitutes.
Some children who have nowhere to live are hired by bar owners to entertain their customers.
There are also widows and students. Many students practice prostitution for pocket money and school fees.
I left prostitution three months ago when the African Network for the Prevention and Protection against Child Abuse and Neglect sensitised us and promised to equip us with vocational skills.
Currently, I am attending hair dressing course. I want start my own salon and live a decent life.
Name withheld (As told to John Semakula)
I joined prostitution at 15