On the 14th of March 2013, we held a dialogue at Makerere University whose sole aim was to raise awareness about the alarming rates on human trafficking in Uganda. After a discussion with Rhionah Musoke the former deputy guild president we realized that 80% of the people that graduate from Makerere are unemployed. As a result they fall prey to this scourge of human trafficking.
Our sole desire was to raise awareness.
Stakeholders were involved in this dialogue; we had members of the civil society, the police force and the students of Makerere.
At exactly 2:00pm the dialogue started, the dialogue kicked off with a mind-blowing discussion from Ms Agnes Igoye our main discussant.
Agnes is a Humphrey Fellow , Training Manager DCIC, International Advocacy Officer Chain Of Hope, National Coordinator Uganda-US Exchange Alumni Association, Member of the Clinton Global Initiative and above all passionate about Human trafficking issues.
In her presentation, she defined human trafficking as the recruiting and transportation of someone for the purposes of exploitation; labor, prostitution and organ trafficking.
Uganda is seen as the origin (internal and external trafficking), the transit (where victims pass through), and a destination (where people from other countries are brought in).
Human trafficking is organized crime and complicated because it is done underground, they use the victims in drug trafficking and arms race so it is sophisticated chain of crime.
Reasons why people get into trafficking; unemployment, poverty- however, the presenter argued that poverty was just a mindset this is usually driven by materialism and greed, armed conflict, child neglect and rejection, lack of awareness about Human trafficking and peer influence.
Most of the time people are trafficked for prostitution and cheap labor, they are promised heaven in form of high wages but in the end they deliver hell on earth.
She said that the victim profile ranges between 13 and 38.
How do the traffickers control their victims? Through with holding their documents, Language barrier, threatening with witchcraft, and because they have done a thorough investigation, they threaten to harm the families of the victims if they speak out and hook them to drugs.
Is there hope? She called upon every one that was present to be aware of what is going on in the country she called upon the participants to own this u and pass on the information to others.
“We have to know that human trafficking is real and we do our part.”
There is need to involve other parties, the government, consulates and embassies, lawmakers and other CSOs. Once the victims have come back home it is important to protect their image to make them secure and take them through a recovery process.
Present at the dialogue was the Uganda Police spokes Person Judith Nabakoba, she didn’t talk much but with her was a victim who gave her testimony.
The victim asked anonymity, in this article let me call her Mary.
It was one good morning when woman that was well known to her came to ask whether she would be willing to g to Malaysia to work in a boutique. She was taken to an elderly man to confirm this man had pictures of the boutique and she talked to the woman Faith on phone who affirmed that it is true there is a job. So quickly she started processing her papers, they got for her a passport, and paid the visa fees and the air ticket. She was instead taken to China; she was taken to a hotel called Tong Tong. She found the lady she had spoken to on phone. She asked when she would begin work but this woman cut for the chase when she told her that there was nothing such as a job or a boutique she was about to start work that night. But unfortunately the clothes that she had parked were not good enough for the job they were very long, so she was taken on a shopping spree for skimpy and more revealing clothes.
Reality slapped her in the face when she was taken to a place where she found other girls that were from Uganda they told her that the only job available was prostitution she had to make at least 7000 dollars a month. She wanted to run for dear life but she knew that she could contact someone from home; she contacted the woman that had linked her to faith, in turn the woman called Faith.
Mary was punished for her mischief she was clobbered and that night they brought her three Nigerian Men that were high on drugs they gang rapped her the whole night. She fell sick recovered by herself without any form of treatment. From that time she resigned to her fate, in the brothels, there was no food, only bread and water.
Faith claimed that Mary was becoming a bad influence on her friends so she was flown to Malaysia, she was determined not to leave the airport but then faiths accomplices cam for their cargo, so they took her to another brothel in the city.
In Malaysia she saw her friend Molly (Real name) killed, she was beaten up, denied food and then given away to men, more girls were being brought in from Uganda, some were as young as sixteen used of men.
She had had enough; she boarded a taxi to the airport with a friend.
At the airport, they were interrogated at the airport but they chose to keep silent they knew that at the airport they would be safer that going back to the hell they were in at the brothels, two months down the road they were still stuck at the airport with no hope, they then later told the airport officials to contact the foreign affairs of Uganda or even the consulate nothing was done immediately, she fell sick, she was bleeding, they rushed her to a nearby hospital in a critical condition, its only then that she realized that she was pregnant but the fetus had died in the womb, a surgery was done, he uterus removed. She tested positive. This story got press attention and an organization offered two air tickets to bring them back home.
What kept her going in all this was the desire for justice she promised “I promised Faith a gift.”
As soon as her feet touched the Ugandan soil, she headed to police in Uganda. Right now Faith is being tried in the high court for crimes against humanity.
Mary called upon the participants to be vigilant to be alert because human trafficking is real
She is determined to raise awareness.