Instagram is a popular photo-sharing social media application in Uganda.
If you have an eagle’s eye, you will see girls in corporate institutions and some in private businesses flashing pictures of their holidays in Paris, Dubai, Hawaii among other exotic places.
While it is true some girls travel for business and others work-related activities, an investigation by ChimpReports shows hundreds of girls are cashing in on growing sex trade here in Uganda and abroad.
According to Linda (not real name), it’s all about being glamorous, looking good, hanging out in the right places and being strategic at your workplace.
How is the game played? How do girls hook up clients?
“Some have managers that organize appointments for them with prominent people of status in society,” says Linda who has been in the trade for several years.
Asked which people are the main targets, Linda responded: “We are dealing with wealthy government officials, judicial officers, royals and even the clergy.”
Linda says “all you need are the right contacts. You just get booked and off you roll.”
Apophia (not real name) recalls a time when she got a tempting offer from an Indian businessman living in Kampala.
“I was offered Shs 300,000 for every time I have sex with the man. He had this lavish apartment not far from where I stay. He said for every time I sleep with him I’ll be paid Shs 300,000 exclusive of my meals at his house. I order what I want, then transport Shs 20,000 – so roughly Shs 400,000. This means if I slept with him at least three times a week that would fetch me Shs 1.2m a week,” she recalled.
Apophia turned down the offer she describes as “tempting,” citing the man’s old man’s advanced age and smoking habits.
“He was a smoker. So I couldn’t imagine myself kissing his mouth with brown stained teeth,” she said.
But how would the Indian doctor know about Apophia’s availability?
“You will have to know who to contact,” she says, adding, “And that’s the tricky part… The circles are really closed and not easy to penetrate.”
She says “Confidentiality is very important because of the people involved – married people, clergy and senior citizens. I don’t know how guys join. But for women it’s easy. You are noticed, offered money, you either accept or decline…”
When a girl accepts to have sex with a man in the covert group, her sexual prowess is widely discussed among the men who refer her to their colleagues hence the high chances of being caught in a sexual network of multiple partners.”
Jane (not real name), says she was approached while in a bar.
“For me I was offered Shs 1m. And the guy wanted to take me to Kyobe for 5 days for sex. These people have pimps who do the job. The pimps will meet you anywhere – at the supermarket, workplace or even along the road.
You may travel to Chobe not knowing whom you will have sex with,” she recalls.
In Chobe, Jane was received at a party of couples where she drunk herself lame before being taken for the first day of sex.
But aren’t there other people of low status who are also in this business?
Jane says they exist but “are unable to offer as much”; adding, a man with status has a lot more to lose.
In Kampala, Jane believes more than 5000 women are up for this type of prostitution with some advertising themselves on networking apps like Tinder.
“You would be shocked to find out the women who participate in this type of trade corporates in banks, businesswomen, married women etc. Sometimes you don’t even have to look far… It can be happening right at your work place,” says Jane.
While transactional sex comes with benefits such as tours of exotic capitals in Europe and freebies, there is a price to pay.
Health professionals say this sexual behaviour is contributing to new HIV infections in the country.
“We had a friend at a University in Mbarara who contracted HIV at the age of 22,” recalls Susan (not real name).
“It was a tragedy for her and immediate family.”
Uganda has lost close to 2 million people to the HIV epidemic, more than all post-independence wars combined together.
Currently, there are about 1.2 million Ugandans living with HIV. HIV remains a significant challenge to Uganda.
Physician De Masereka says “multiple sexual partners, transaction sex and low condom use” are the some of major causes of HIV transmissions in the country.