Memories of my life a sex worker

Date: May 6, 2013
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I started working in a bar after a man in my village raped me and I became pregnant. , I was 17 and a virgin. He said if he was going to help me, I must marry him first, but I did not want to marry him.

No one in my village supported me. Not even my mother or my sisters. So, when my daughter was 6 months old, I left her in the village to make money in Kampala. I began working in a bar, but they paid little, so at the same time I was also a sex worker.
One of the first men was someone who worked in the Ministry of Tourism. He was a big man, as big as my grandfather was. I served him often in the bar and he asked, “You are such a young girl, why are you not at school?À He said he would pay for my school fees, so I decided to go with him.
He gave me HIV. When I confronted him, he said I gave it to him. He threatened to kill me if I told anyone about it. So, I kept quiet. After this, I joined the streets.
One time, a Uganda Ministry of Defence (UPDF) officer said he was going to give me 50,000 UGX (approx. USD $30). His escorts took me outside Kampala, to Kakiri, so that no one would find out he was hiring a sex worker. After having sex with me, he left me in the lodge with no money to travel back. He said that’s what sex workers deserve for selling something that is worth nothing. I slept with another person in the lodge, just to get back to Kampala.
Another, also a UPDF officer, took me to his place, saying he would give me the money he would normally pay for a lodge. We entered his compound, guarded by soldiers with big guns. Guns filled his room, all over the walls. I wasn’t sure if I should be scared, but he acted like a really decent guy.
At around 4am, he woke me up asking for his money back, plus all the other money I had, otherwise he would order his friends to kill me. I gave all my money, and my phone, which was very nice and expensive. He threw me out, with nothing, saying “Don’t shout, don’t say anything. Or I’ll shoot you.À
Another memory involving the police is one of my worst. A police officer I refused to have sex with for free arrested me, accusing me of being indecent because I was wearing a short skirt and an open back top. I stayed at the prison for 3 days. It was too cold, I had nothing to cover myself with. I had no shower.
In the mornings, the policemen ordered me to mop. As I tried to cover myself by pulling my skirt down, they told me to continue mopping, saying that if I wanted to be in a short skirt, that I should mop with my knickers for everyone to see.  
On the third day, the Officer in Command found me mopping. He recognised me because he had been my client previously, though I didn’t know that he was a policeman.
He asked why they arrested me alone, as they usually arrest sex workers in groups, and I told him that I refused to have sex free. The OC understood that this was unfair, and offered to confront him together, but I was too scared.
This memory hurts me the worst because this is when my neighbours found out I was a sex worker. They had never seen me in such clothes. After 3 days in the prison cells, I was also dirty and smelly. When they released me, I had to walk home in this state. The entire neighbourhood came to see and laugh at me.
Another instance, a man picked me up at Capital Pub. He seemed very nice and gentle. He said we should go to his place in Muyenga. When he turned off the road into a bunch of thick bushes, I asked, “Is this your house?À He said, “Do you think I’ll actually bring a prostitute into my own home?À I said that there was no way I could sleep with him in the bush and asked him to take me back to the bar.
He opened my door and pulled me out. He pulled off my shirt and jeans, with my keys, phone, and money inside, and threw them in the car. First he wanted to have sex standing, and then in the car, but I am a big girl and I could not. He then slapped me, and showed me his pistol, his knife, and a hammer.
 “Since you are too fat and can’t have sex with me, just go before I shoot you.À He flashed his car lights at me and ordered me to run. I was wearing a t-shirt, but my knickers, jeans, and money were in his car. As I ran through the bush, I often fell, checking to see if he shot me. I managed to get a boda-boda and go home.
The next day, I went back to Capital Pub, just to drink. Fellow sex-workers approached and asked what happened? I said nothing. They said, no, what really happened? I said he didn’t pay. They persisted. They kept insisting because their friend went with him before. He took her to the bush and forced a stick up her vagina. When she returned, she went to the hospital and later died. I was angry they did not warn me.
I drank the rest of my vodka and went home. I took all the clothes I used to wear, all my shoes, all the things that associated me with this work, I put them in a pile and burned them with paraffin. This was the day I stopped engaging in sex work.
Even these days, I see these men often. I cannot say anything because there is no law to protect me. I can’t even point out these men to anyone because no one cares.
Luckily, I had saved money. I bought a small house. I sleep in one room and rent the rest to tenants. I send money home to my daughter often. My daughter came to live with me at one point but I feared for her safety. When she started to develop into a woman, with breasts and a bum, I was scared someone would rape her. We were in such small living quarters that I was worried that we were not safe. So my daughter is back in the village, where I send her money.
All these experiences are why I hate men. I don’t want anything to do with them.  
While I have been able to move out of sex work, I cannot escape the fact that I know that every single sex worker has very serious problems: they are underpaid, they are exploited, they can be beaten, they can be gang raped, their clients won’t use a condom.
They really need help. They are cast as women who don’t want to work, don’t want to marry, don’t want to have children. However, this is not true.
Those who have gone through this life and survived are the only ones who can help them. No one else can understand what we have gone through. There are women who are tortured and they don’t even know they are being tortured. We have experienced a lot. We have the power to convince them of the danger and risks involved with sex work in Uganda.
Daisy Nakato is and Outreach Officer and Assistant Executive Director for WONETHA in Kampala, Uganda. This article is part of the Gender Links Opinion and Commentary Service that provides fresh views on everyday news.

0 thoughts on “Memories of my life a sex worker”

otim paul says:

the bigger problem is the bars and the owners a law should be made to stop sex trade

MS says:

The issues that are mostly affecting sex workers are:
They have no protection from the law, and men are not punish for using and abusing vulnerable women.
If there were education no how it affects the sex workers mental, emotional and physical. We as a society can say sex worker are human being .
stop the stigma against prostitution.

saffron says:

m 25 years old guy. i like men .Add your comment here

Name says:

Add your comment here

Jackson Mwalundange says:

Sex work is by no way a claim, and like any other citizen’ the sex works’s human rights must be protected. What I read here are disgusting stories, crimes committed by even officers who’re supposed to fight crime. If the prostitute’s product was not good, so many men would not go for it. Let’s open our eyes, man.

Deepooa Awa Bibi says:

It is very disgusting when u see people’s attitudes towards the sex workers. If they are treating the sex workers like animals, why use them? They are worse than the sex workers. At least sex workershave got a reason to do this. Law must be very strict for those officers who are well conversant with same, to misuse it.

J.V says:

i believe that prostitution deserves legalisation under the following context.
1. Sex workers should be registered for their trade.
2. Prostitution should not be practiced in the steets.
3. Prostitutes should have secure rented/own places where both the prostitute and the clients can fairly treat each other.
3. Pricing should be fairly regulated so that both the client and the service provider are not unfairfairly disadvantaged.

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