Sunday February 12 2012

20% city students in sex trade - report

By Agatha Ayebazibwe

Twenty-one per cent of secondary school students in Kampala between the ages of 14 and 17 have indulged in transactional sex with at least one in every 20 having it with a relative in exchange for something.

According to a 2010 Crane survey report, by Makerere University School of Public Health, out of a total of 3,434 students randomly interviewed, majority had their first sex encounter at the ages of 10-14.

The senior three- five students, formed the baseline of the sample. It revealed that 15 per cent of the students said they had their first-time sex in return for money and other gifts in return. But 12.3 per cent said they were raped.

The survey funded by the US President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) found that over 29 per cent were sexually active. It found that 8.3 per cent of the students reported having practiced oral sex and 1.3 per cent of the boys and 0.9 per cent of the girls said they had ever practiced anal sex.

Aborted confessions
The report further revealed that one in every five female students had ever conceived, of which 15 per cent confessed they have ever aborted.

The study which focused on the health behaviour of 3,336 students from Rubaga, Makindye, Kawempe, Nakawa and Central Divisions in Kampala, also found that day students were more likely to engage in commercial sexual behaviour than the boarding students putting girls at a bigger disadvantage than their male counterparts.

According to Ms Yudaya Mukulembeze, the deputy head teacher Kitebi Secondary School, some parents and teachers are ignoring their roles to educate and provide their children with the necessary needs so that they are not easily compromised.

“Some children are raped from their homes and intimidated into silence for fear of the parent’s refusal to pay fees,” she told Sunday Monitor.

The study findings also show that one in four students said they had consumed alcohol, while 5.4 per cent used illicit drugs such as cocaine. However, the study left out senior one and two students on assumption that they were young and had not engaged in any sexual behaviours but previous researches indicate that these particular classes are vulnerable and are easily compromised with gifts and money from the adults of the opposite sex.

“Some children become sexually active as early as nine years, with little knowledge about sex rendering them easy prey,” said Mr Henry Semakula, of the guidance and counselling department in the Ministry of Health.

Mr Semakula also said the ministry is finalising a school health policy that will guide students, teachers and parents in matters of health, sex and counselling.

Other researches show that this trend has been on the rise since 2004 with more young children engaging in transactional sex which has since infiltrated schools.

By Late last year, the number of young girls getting into the habit had increased from 12,000 in 2004 to 18,000, with more girls affected than boys.

Last year, a report titled Commercial Sex Exploitation of Children in Uganda, revealed that more than 500 children below the age of 18, had indulged in commercial sex both in school and outside school in Kawempe Division.

The same report also found that the age of entry into commercial sex work is increasingly lower to include children of eight-13 years, with clients of commercial sex workers demanding to have young girls as opposed to middle-age women because among other things; charge lower prices and are presumed to carry less risk of HIV/Aids and STIs.