The number of teenage girls joining commercial sex business in Lukaya Town Council, Kalungu District, has gone up, HIV/Aids peer educators have said.
Some rehabilitated commercial sex workers, who are now championing the anti-HIV/Aids campaign, under their umbrella group, “Yes We Can HIV Task Force”, say the area is experiencing an influx of new adolescent sex workers, including secondary school students.
Ms Vanessa Birungi, the chairperson of the task force, said the influx has complicated their efforts to reduce the spread of the disease in Lukaya Town .
“Many of the girls are very vulnerable and cannot effectively use condoms, thus standing higher chances of contracting infections. Only male condoms are accessible in the area, which also increases their vulnerability,” Ms Birungi said during a press conference last week.
She attributed the problem to high school dropouts, parental negligence and presence of many lodges and bars that hire young girls to work as waitresses.
According to Ms Birungi, the group is doing its best to lure girls out of prostitution, but their efforts are frustrated by limited resources.
Apparently, the Alliance of Mayors Municipal Leaders Initiative on HIV at the Local levels, Uganda Chapter, operates a rehabilitation project in Lukaya Town council, but Ms Birungi says this is too small compared to the problem.
Ms Alice Namatovu, the task force secretary, noted that besides those that come in from other parts of the country, many other girls that reside within Lukaya Town Council also escape from their parents’ homes to get involved in prostitution.
“Owners of lodges and bars ask prostitutes to pay an annual subscription fee of Shs5,000 to be allowed to operate around these areas and authorities have failed to check this, denying that it doesn’t exist,” Ms Namatovu said.
However, Mr Dawood Ssengonzi, the community development officer for Lukaya Town Council denied the allegation. He, however, concurred with the observation of the task force that the problem needs to be solved.