Sex trade: At 17 years, I have slept with more than 400 men

As we walk to freedom, I am convinced Angela will not agree to the interview, but she says it is ok. She is used to harassment and beatings by guards and some of her clients. “Sometimes you can agree on a fee, but after he has slept with you, he beats you up and sends you away without payment,” says Angela. “But I cannot give up just because I have not been paid, maybe the next client will pay me double,” she adds, in a tone reeling of an injured hope.

Saturday February 18 2012

At least 200 teenage girls in Gulu Town engage

At least 200 teenage girls in Gulu Town engage in prostitution, according to estimates from the girls and local authorities. Photo by Yusuf Muziransa 

By Harriet Anena

As the sun sets in Gulu Town, Angela’s day is just beginning. By 9pm, she is already at her work station. Her eyes are fixed towards the door - waiting for a potential client to walk in and notice her.

She wears an ecstatic smile, which occasionally reveals a set of white teeth, that lightens up her pretty face. Her petite body makes her appear the youngest in the pub and vulnerable.

A young, smartly dressed man walks in and approaches her. She gets to her feet and turns around, probably to show off her body. Her tiny breasts protrude through the low-cut blouse as her round bottom shapes her black pair of leggings.

But five minutes later, the discussion seems to have hit a snag. Angela walks away towards the pool table, taps another man on the shoulder and wiggles seductively. He ignores her. The night seems to have started on a bad note, so she heads towards the counter for a bottle of beer.

Even as she sips her drink, her eyes are roaming around the room, scanning for an available customer.
A friend I have moved with approaches her and they talk “business”.

“Shs5,000 is ok,” she says, looking down as she plays with her tiny fingers.

Without much ado, the pair head out of the pub.

Unknown to Angela, she was just headed for an interview with me. When I follow the duo out of the pub, a cluster of other girls is standing on verandahs along the Gulu-Kampala road, waiting for customers.

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Laughters and giggles can be heard as one passes by the teenagers.

Angela is now standing near a bank, making final negotiations with her client, until I approach and introduce myself.

When she finally learns the reason why we brought her out of the pub, disappointment can be seen on her face. But my friend assures her the deal still stands.

As we look for a quieter place to carry on the interview, a security guard approaches and orders us to sit down: “What are you doing here at this time of the night?” “Don’t you know you are standing near a bank?”

“Officer…we are…”

“Shut up, or I’ll shoot,” the guard shouts, pointing a gun at me.

We are then ordered inside the bank premises and reprimanded for, at our ‘age’, roaming in the night like criminals.

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