Prostitution: the downside of UN presence in Uganda

Uganda – Prostitution: the downside of UN presence in Uganda

Source: RNW, by Alan Kawesa, Entebbe, 6/24/2014

Prostitution is rampant in Entebbe with UN personnel providing much of the demand and young Nigerian girls being the supply. But the root cause remains youth unemployment.

I’ve been around Uganda, but there’s no place like Entebbe. Perhaps because I call it home. People here have an easy approach to life. You hardly ever see suits hurrying to get to work. And unlike Kampala, we never have rush hours, traffic jams or smog. The hot weather and green wild gardens give you a special feeling. But I fear this article is not about my love affair with Entebbe.

The price of prosperity
The Regional Service Centre Entebbe (RSCE) of the United Nations has made life relatively better in Entebbe. Many foreigners have settled here and several sectors of our economy are now booming. Entebbe now has a modern mall, with another one under construction.

The number of hotels, restaurants and hangout joints are increasing rapidly, and the number of Forex bureaus has jumped from one to ten in just four years. But with UN personnel willing to pay thrice the value of an apartment, it’s the real estate market that has prospered the most. All of these changes have translated into more income for residents.

However Entebbe is paying a large social price for this development. Many of these expatriates do not come with their families or wives. A large ‘sexual vacuum’ has been created and it’s being filled by countless young girls and women.

No jobs
The first generation of prostitutes emerged around ten years ago, when French troops were stationed at the military base in Entebbe. The Four Turkeys pub became notorious for soldiers picking up young girls. Bridgette (not her real name) recalls the first time a French soldier gave her 50 euros to just go on a date. She was only 16 then, and has been a prostitute ever since.

A large number of the girls caught up in the sex trade attended school; some are even university graduates. Like so many educated people who dreamed of the good life as a reward for all their hard school work, they ended up disappointed. Entebbe has one of the highest rates of youth unemployment in Uganda.

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