Hoima, Uganda | URN | Buseruka sub county authorities in Hoima district in Western Uganda have raised a red flag over the high number of teenage girls involved in commercial sex. According to the authorities, many girls between 15 and 17 years have dropped out of school to engage in commercial sex to earn quick money.
Buseruka sub-county authorities say more than 500 girls have dropped out of school ever since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the country. He says most of the girls have joined the commercial sex business in various parts of the sub-county especially along the Lake Albert shores.
Seraji Bedijo, the Buseruka sub-county youth chairperson says economic hardships resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak, parental neglect and the presence of bars and lodges in the sub-county are to blame for the vice.
Nathan Adegi, the Speaker Buseruka sub county council says youth in the area lack capital to engage in economic activities to boost their household incomes, which has forced them especially girls into the dubious business.
Ali Tinkamanyire, the Buseruka sub-county LC 3 chairperson says the vice is worrying especially along the Lake Albert shores, adding that they are considering taking stern action against bar and lodge owners employing the minors. He says more than 500 girls dropped out of school since the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in the country and these girls have not been traced.
The commercial sex business is common in Kijangi, Fofo, Rwentale, Kaiso, Mbegu, Hoima and Kiryamboga landing site on the shores of Lake Albert and within the trading centers of Buseruka and Nyamasoga. Jane Byekwaso, a young girl at Kaiso landing site calls on the sub-county and district authorities to forge a way forward to curtail the vice.
John Kaliisa, an opinion leader in the area says that the vice could fuel the spread of HIV/AIDS if not addressed immediately. He wants lodge and bar owners arrested and punished for recruiting teenage girls to operate their business.
Geoffrey Kumakech, the area LC 5 councilor faults some parents in the sub-county for abandoning their role of providing and looking after their families. He says they are engaging the government and some Non-Governmental Organizations to come to establish rehabilitation centers for the young girls engaging in the act.
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A nurse at Buseruka health center III who spoke to this publication on the condition of anonymity revealed that they are also concerned by the increasing number of teenage girls seeking family planning services. According to the nurse, between 20 to 30 teenage girls come to the health facility on a daily basis for enrollment on various family planning methods.
Amos Bitamale, the Senior Probation Officer Hoima district says that his office is teaming up with the police to launch a crackdown targeting bar and lodge owners recruiting teenage girls to ensure that they are arrested and strong action taken against them.
Julius Hakiza, the Albertine region police spokesperson says it is an offence to recruit teenage girls to operate bars and lodges, saying they will not tolerate this.