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The Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children

In the early years of the 21st Century, 2000 to 2025                      


Uganda has substantial natural resources, including fertile soils, regular rainfall, and sizable mineral deposits of copper, cobalt, gold, and other minerals. Agriculture is the most important sector of the economy, employing over 80% of the work force. Coffee accounts for the bulk of export revenues. Since 1986, the government - with the support of foreign countries and international agencies - has acted to rehabilitate and stabilize the economy by undertaking currency reform, raising producer prices on export crops, increasing prices of petroleum products, and improving civil service wages.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]


CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in Uganda.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of child prostitution are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring how children got started, how they survive, and how some succeed in leaving.  Perhaps your paper could focus on runaways and the abuse that led to their leaving.  Other factors of interest might be poverty, rejection, drug dependence, coercion, violence, addiction, hunger, neglect, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to write about the manipulative and dangerous adults who control this activity.  There is a lot to the subject of Child Prostitution.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

International Organization for Migration
3 12 26 11 79
Country code: 256-



Grim Future for War Orphans

Caroline Ayugi - International Justice - International Criminal Court ICC, Asia Child Rights ACR Issue 143, 25 Feb 2008

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Many orphaned girls whose refugee camps and night commuter shelters have closed have ended up in towns where they resort to prostitution in order to survive.  An August 2007 survey by the ministry of health and the World Health Organisation in the northern districts of Apac, Gulu, Kitgum, Lira and Pader, revealed that girls as young as 11 years old are in the sex trade.  "I would rather die of HIV/AIDS, because through sex I can at least buy basic commodities like salt, soap and sanitary pads," a 17-year-old girl in Lira told the New Vision newspaper.  Others said they offered sex for as little as 200 Uganda shillings (11 US cents). sccp


*** ARCHIVES ***

ECPAT - Report on the scale, scope and context of the sexual exploitation of children  [PDF]

Badru Bukenya, Rosalind Fennell and Chloé Baury, ECPAT International, April 2019

[accessed 25 August 2020]

Desk review of existing information on the sexual exploitation of children (SEC) in Uganda, Africa. The overview gathers existing publicly available information on sexual exploitation of children in travel and tourism (SECTT), online child sexual exploitation (OCSE), trafficking of children for sexual purposes, sexual exploitation of children through prostitution, child early and forced marriage (CEFM) and identifies gaps, research needs, and recommendations.

Human Rights Reports » 2019 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 10, 2020

[accessed 9 September 2020]

SEXUAL EXPLOITATION OF CHILDREN - The law prohibits commercial sexual exploitation, the sale and procurement of sexual services, and practices related to child pornography. It sets the minimum age for consensual sex at 18 years. The government did not enforce the law effectively, however, and the problem was pervasive. On February 29, local media reported that the UPF arrested a 71-year-old German philanthropist, Bernhard Bery Glaser, on allegations that he sexually abused girls at his gender-based-violence shelter in Kalangala district. The UPF reported that Glaser kept 30 girls at the shelter and forced them to take turns sleeping in his bedroom. Local UPF personnel told local media that they approved transfer of the girls to the shelter despite having received prior reports from the community over a five-year period suggesting wrongdoing at the shelter. The government charged Glaser with aggravated defilement and trafficking on April 2. The trial continued at year’s end.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 30 September 2005

[accessed 9 March 2011]

[75] The Committee is concerned that according to some recent studies a considerable number of children are victims of sexual exploitation. Furthermore, the Committee is deeply concerned at the very high incidence of defilement of girls, constituting more than half of the cases of child abuse. In addition, it notes that the law on sexual abuse is biased against the boy child.

Uganda: Busia Leaders Team Up to Address Sex Trade, Street Children

Patrick Jaramogi, The New Vision, Kampala, 23 January 2008

[partially accessed 3 August 2011 - access restricted]

The influx of Kenyan refugees following the election violence has fuelled sex trade among under age girls in the district.  The Ugandan girls aged between 11-18 years are a big attraction to many. "They charge as low sh500 for sex per hour," said a resident. The looming sex trade coupled with the influx of street children has prompted the Government and Busia district leaders to seek solutions to avert what they described as "a looming crisis".  Busia district probation officer, Julius Ogalo said there are at least 400 street children in the municipality alone."Most of these street children are Karimojongs who come to engage in petty business and smuggling along the border," he said. sccp

Uganda: Child Prostitution On the Rise, Says Kinobe

Jane Nafula, The Monitor, Kampala, 9 October 2007

[partially accessed 3 August 2011 - access restricted]

Maj. Kinobe said prostitution was one of the major factors responsible for the rampant spread of HIV/Aids among young children.  He said it was sad that the children involved in commercial sex have set different rates for protected sex and unprotected sex.  Recent press reports have shown that in some places especially in slum areas, protected sex goes for as little as Shs200 while unprotected goes for about Shs5,000.  Maj. Kinobe said the difference in payment has forced more children to go in for unprotected sex.

Uganda: Forced Onto the Streets to Please the Men

Katarzyna Heath, The New Vision, Kampala, 9 September 2007

This article has been archived by World Street Children News and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 2 August 2011]

Most of them flee their homes due to abuse and neglect, their heads filled with warped views of urban existence. In reality, these dreams are not fulfilled and the end result is there are children working and sleeping on the streets, fending for themselves in unsafe conditions.

The children are exposed to many dangers. Many become part of child trafficking. They are persuaded under false pretences by elders or family 'acquaintances' that they are moving to new places with better opportunities.  Instead, they are trapped in a world of exploitation, which exposes them to anything from child prostitution to human sacrifices.

Innocent Children Trapped in Prostitution

Agnes Asiimwe, The Monitor, 31 August 2006

[partially accessed 3 August 2011 - access restricted]

Girls as young as 13 are peddling their bodies for as low as Shs2,000 in Gulu and the chief buyers are soldiers of the Uganda People Defense Forces. Two nightclubs; Buganda Pub and Alobo in Gulu town serve as a conduit.

While local government leaders are reportedly regulars at these spots, not much has been done to address the sexual exploitation of children that could wipe out an entire generation if it is not immediately stopped.

Five Years After Stockholm [PDF]

ECPAT: Fifth Report on implementation of the Agenda for Action

ECPAT International, November 2001

[accessed 13 September 2011]

[B] COUNTRY UPDATES – UGANDA – In terms of prevention, Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL), through its community outreach program, has been carrying out awareness raising campaigns about the hazards of CSEC and identifying children involved in CSEC and forms of child labor. Meanwhile, ANPPCAN has carried out community sensitization campaigns on children’s rights.  Recently, it has carried out campaigns on child abuse and child labor and it has organized radio and TV programs on child rights related issues.

Report by Special Rapporteur [DOC]

UN Economic and Social Council Commission on Human Rights, Fifty-ninth session, 6 January 2003$FILE/G0310090.doc

[accessed 3 August 2011]

[74] Since the 1996 World Congress against Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children, the Government has announced its intention to criminalize the sale of children, child prostitution and child pornography. Uganda ratified the OP/SOC, but the sale and trafficking of children are not defined as criminal offences in national legislation and prostitution is handled under the laws governing defilement. There are no specific laws as yet against child pornography, however, in 2001, the editor of a newspaper was arrested for publishing pictures of teenage children involved in a sexual act.

Inter-Agency Internal Displacement Division Mission to Uganda (30 August - 3 September 2004) [PDF]

Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, Inter-Agency Displacement Division

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 August 2011]

The close proximity of the IDP population to soldiers, widespread idleness and lack of access to land, despondency and alcohol abuse among men and the poor conditions of camp life has resulted in a near total breakdown of Acholi social order and traditional morals. Not the only protection problem, but among the most significant, is the high rate of child prostitution on the one hand and sexual abuse and rape by military personnel and other males in the camps on the other hand.

A comprehensive response to SGBV is constrained by several factors:

a) There is a lack of hard data. Women are generally afraid to come forward and make documented complaints because there is no one to report it to; and

b) Although traditional justice exists in varying degrees, the civilian police or LC courts do not operate well, which means even if cases were reported the options of redress are limited. When UPDF or local militias are the perpetrators, fear of retribution is high.

Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation. Based on the Experiences of Slum Aid Project [PDF]

[Last access date unavailable]

[1.1] NATIONAL SITUATION - Ugandan participants recognized the need for Uganda to come up with a National Action Plan encompassing all kind of child sexual abuse and exploitation including child prostitution. The task of drawing a draft National Action Plan (NAP) was drawn up involving key child rights NGOs and Government line ministries was spearheaded by SAP. Due to Government Bureaucracy the government is yet to embrace this plan.

Child Prostitutes brought to SA

Mandy Rossouw, Beeld, Johannesburg, 2003-02-19

[accessed 3 August 2011]

Child prostitution is flourishing in South Africa and syndicates are bringing thousands of children from Asiatic and African countries into the country to sell their bodies. A report compiled by UN officials who investigated child abuse, child rape and prostitution in South Africa claims that children were abducted or lured with false promises from Angola, Mozambique, Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Eastern Europe.

Human Security Network - Statement by the Austrian Minister for Foreign Affairs

Permanent Mission of Austria to the United Nations, New York, 2003

[accessed 3 August 2011]

II REPORT OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL - As an example, I would like to direct your attention to one situation, which is particularly alarming: the ongoing abductions of numerous boys and girls in Northern Uganda. Based on reports from a variety of sources we have reason to believe that large numbers of children are still being abducted and held by the Lord's Resistance Army for the use in combat or as sex slaves.

Combating Child Prostitution: The Learning Point for Child Rights Organizations

Eshetu Alemu, ANPPCAN-U Chapter, Oct 31 2002

[accessed 3 August 2011]

In a study conducted in Uganda on the problem of child prostitution by Slum Area Project (1999) it was elucidated that the number of teen-age children involved in commercial sex is increasing from time to time.

Adoption Now! - Caring For Orphans And Street-Children In Uganda

02 November 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 3 August 2011]

Uganda has an estimated 1.7 million orphans, the highest number in the world, and 25 percent of all households look after at least one child orphaned by either HIV/AIDS or war.  The number of street children in Uganda has increased dramatically over the last two decades. They spend most of their time, day and night, on the street - begging, stealing, using drugs or prostituting themselves to survive.




ECPAT Global Monitoring Report on the status of action against commercial exploitation of children - UGANDA [PDF]

ECPAT International, 2007

[accessed 3 August 2011]

A sectoral study conducted by Uganda Youth Development Link and commissioned by the International Labour Organization (ILO) and the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development found that various forms of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC) exist in Uganda. Furthermore, the sexual abuse of children is a common offence and is on the rise. Evidence suggests that children are abducted, trafficked and forced into prostitution and also sexually abused by adult men who seek young girls with the belief that they are free from HIV.

Although the hidden nature of the problem makes it difficult to establish concrete statistics, one study suggests that the number of children exploited in commercial sex in the Kabarole, Lira, Mbale and Busia districts of Uganda is between 7,000 and 12,000. In Kawempe, one of the five divisions of Kampala, the capital city, it was revealed that more than 500 children below the age of 18 were being sexually exploited. Kampala city is particularly affected by the problem. ‘Survival sex’ is irregular and seasonal, depending on the current survival needs of the child and, as such, the turnover of children forced into prostitution is high. In the Jinja district, it was reported that both boys and girls aged between 8 and 16 years old are exploited in commercial sex, with girls being more vulnerable than boys. Generally, no information is available on the prostitution of boys, apart from scattered reports indicating that it occurs.

Evidence suggests that child prostitution takes place mainly in slums, rented rooms and in certain lodges and hostels. Contact points are on roadsides, on the streets or near wells and springs. The children usually live independently or with peers who are also exploited through prostitution. Some children identify themselves with ‘solidarity groups’ referred to as ‘ebiduula’ and follow rules to which every member must conform, such as the amount of money charged for various sexual acts. Child victims of prostitution are stigmatised and often harassed, including by the police and the Local Defense Units.

The Department of Labor’s 2004 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor

U.S. Dept of Labor Bureau of International Labor Affairs, 2005

[accessed 2 January 2011]

Note:: Also check out this country’s report in the more recent edition DOL Worst Forms of Child Labor

INCIDENCE AND NATURE OF CHILD LABOR - Children are also involved in exploitive labor, including commercial sexual exploitation and other hazardous activities. Uganda is considered to be a source country for trafficking of persons. There is evidence of children being abducted and trafficked across the border to Southern Sudan by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). The government also acknowledges that internal trafficking of children for labor and commercial sexual exploitation occurs, particularly in border towns and in Kampala.

Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

CHILDREN - Child prostitution and trafficking were problems.  Approximately 35 thousand children, known as "night commuters", traveled from conflict areas or IDP camps each night to urban centers to avoid abduction by the LRA. In September the UN estimated that nearly 9 thousand children commuted nightly into Gulu town and 10,847 commuted in Kitgum. During the year the government cooperated with NGOs to establish shelters for such children in tented dormitories and other semi-permanent structures; in other cases children slept under balconies or on the grounds of schools, churches, and hospitals. Conditions ranged from harsh to adequate. There were credible reports that many displaced girls became involved in prostitution.

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