"I became a sex worker to put my children in school" - Barbara’s story
In the slums of Uganda’s capital, Kampala, as many as 18,000 girls and young women have engaged with or been forced into sex work. Lacking any other source of income, most have had no choice. Many of the younger girls have been forced into sex work entirely against their will.
After a difficult start in life, Barbara needed to provide for her two young children. Day after day, she suffered violence and humiliation but, without the money she earned through sex work, she simply couldn’t afford to send her children to school or access any health services.
We have helped to change all that. Barbara is now attending a Plan International training course to become a hairdresser so she can finally find an alternative way of earning a living and leave sex work behind her. She has also been trained as a peer educator and teaches other sex workers about the importance of using contraception to avoid sexually transmitted infections and unwanted pregnancies.
We’re working with 900 young women between the ages of 13 and 24 who are engaged in – or at risk of being exploited into – sex work. We train them in business skills, financial management and entrepreneurship, and provide business start-up kits so they can build safe, sustainable livelihoods.
Barbara is happy she can now leave her sex work days behind her, "the hair dressing skill that I have acquired...has enabled me to pay school fees for my children, pay rent and buy food."