Govt, clergy vow to crack whip on human trafficking

Gender minister Betty Amongi with Gulu Archbishop John Baptist Odama during national prayers on human trafficking at Kololo Ceremonial Grounds in Kampala on September 9, 2022. PHOTO/MICHAEL KAKUMIRIZI

What you need to know:

  • Mr Joshua Lwere, a senior pastor of Grace Assembly Church in Kampala, urged political leaders to act more since they have the means to fight it.

In 2016, a labour recruitment agency flew a girl to Oman in Asia with a dozen others for employment. 
Upon their arrival, their passports were confiscated by an unknown man who took the girls to an office block that had the writing; “Housemaid shop,” inscribed at its entrance. Here, the girls were paraded for sale before clients. 
“People would just enter the shop and proceed to do an inspection before selecting and buying the girl they wanted. That was how one Arab man bought and took me to his home to start work,” the victim, whose identity we kept secret, recounts. 

The conditions under which she worked were cruel. “I was sweeping, mopping the house, washing clothes, and cooking with minimal breaks. I was always doing errands,” she adds.
She quit after spending a few months on the job. 
“I asked my bosses to let me return home, something they agreed to after reasoning that I had started underperforming,”  the woman narrates. 

With her savings, she bought a return ticket in 2017. 
The woman shared her story during the national prayers on human trafficking at Kololo Independence Grounds last Friday.
The prayers, organised by a section of religious leaders, government officials, and civil society organisations, aimed at casting the spotlight on  the vice.  The perpetrators use fraudulent means, including forgery of travel documents, giving false information to government authorities, and using non-gazetted exit and entry border routes.w
The victims are also sexually assaulted or have their body organs, including kidneys, harvested. 
Ms Betty Amongi, the Minister for Gender, Labour, and Social Development, said human trafficking has become more complicated. 

“It is not only about girls going abroad. The activity is also being done by some of us internally,” Ms Amongi said. 
The minister vowed to work with partners to address the problem. 
Bishop Anthony Joseph Zziwa of Kiyinda- Mityana Diocese, who is also the chairperson of the Uganda Episcopal Conference, in his message that was read, said re-echoed the inhumane nature of external labour.

He said it was a disgrace that people are treated as objects, deceived, raped, and often sold as they seek greener pastures abroad. 
“Everyone should join hands in the struggle against this evil at all levels of our society, starting from the individual, family, local, national and international levels,” Bishop Zziwa said.
Mr Joshua Lwere, a senior pastor of Grace Assembly Church in Kampala, urged political leaders to act more since they have the means to fight it.

Report findings
A report released by the Coordination Office for Prevention of Trafficking in Persons under the auspices of the Ministry of Internal Affairs notes that cases of human trafficking in the country increased by 96.7 percent in 2021. This followed an increment of reported cases from 214 in 2020 to 421 last year.