Alice (not real names) aged 21 is a second-year student of Makerere University pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in arts with social sciences. She is passionate about hitting the climax and lime light as the nation’s superstar in agitating for fairness to the vulnerable children on the streets.
Though she possesses such a powerful promising dream at the back of her mind, Alice is derailed by the life troubles that trail her shadow. She is haunted by the horrors of the ghostly disaster called poverty.
The life she leads does not corroborate with her heavy charity dream. She is held back by the burning zeal of making ends meet amid a hustle of affording her daily necessities, her unemployment stature discredits her among her luxurious company she keeps.
She is left dispensed in the wilderness like a candlelight flame in the hostile wilderness. The advice of her peer has grappled her to the grass root, dragged her to tatters and now she is left trapped on the fence as to whether she should abide by her core instincts and pursue what her passion craves for or loan off her sentiments to the prostitution vice.
She instead opts for the latter and life is never the same again.
Orphaned at a juvenile stage, Alice never saw herself hitting the strides to be the lady at this particular stage of education. Her worry was meeting the hefty expenses associated with pursuing her course.
Born and raised in a deep rooted customary Luweero family of 8, her strategic position as the eldest helped her steadfastly sail her education in rural Universal Primary and Secondary education (UPE&USE) in which she respectively matriculated at all PLE, UCE, UACE levels.
‘’I was born in a humble homestead where we fended all necessities by ourselves’’, tearfully recounts Alice
“Balancing domestic chores with academics was challenging’’, she adds.
But what could have led such a promising young lady into the wrath of this vice? We leave it at that as we delve deeper into the psychological, socio-environmental and economic factors that circumvent the youthful Makerere students.
Financial desperation is not the only reasons Makerere students go plunge into the risky venture.
Edith (not real names), a finalist at the college of Education and External Studies attributes her version to the social company she caged herself in.
‘’In my year one after the orientation week, I was initiated into this by a roommate. Life in Olympia was harshly daring. Friends talked of the ushering business where they reaped big’’, she says.
These girls are linked to purported ‘ushering’ companies which instead auctions them off to town socialites, prominent politicians, and tycoons. Kazibwe Ibrahim a Boda Boda cyclist who chauffeurs these girls at peak hours approves that he sees Porsche rides some bearing personalized number plates which hoot and ferry away the campusers. If it is not the member of parliament himself, then it is probably his messenger dotting in.
‘’Come around at 9pm, you’ll see shocking scenes. I sympathize with parents, their children are deviating from the core principles’’, he says.
‘’ I will never date a campus girl, pretty as they are disloyal’’, he sternly vows as he relates to routine scenes stuck onto his memory.
It is a busy Tuesday night, the weather is stingy. Shoe hooves of busy students peddling their way back to their residences evoke noise that dominates the atmosphere. Sounds of the jeering fries of potato chips immersed in frying pans tease passers-by with a provocative aroma. A black colored vehicle hoots through the downer street connecting to Olympia Hostel. It is vented path upon arrival at the gate. We are told this is a prominent city lawyer that connects with students through an online platform dubbed ‘Tan Tan’. He is alleged to be a regular client of the ‘thriving’ sexual trade.
He fishes out his prey, a slim skinny girl in her early 20’s. She happens to be Edith, the cheerful girl from a stable family. Whereas we may expect her to be attaining all her necessities, Edith boldly asserts that she conducts the business just to fit in her peers. It turns out that the peer pressure exerted by her friends is what has made her the way she is.
Even with different reasons to justify their addiction and pursuance of the moral evil, Edith and Alice are both haunted down by the same implications. At one as Alice was preparing to enter for a test at her school, she was forced to choose between finishing the exam session and attending to an impatiently waiting client that had threatened to leak her nude photos to the public in case she failed to turn up by the set ultimatum hour. She chose to leave the test and rushed to save her ‘dignity’.
Edith on the other hand had to concede to a horrible wild moment of being held captive in a private room for a full day while her client was hiding her from his domestic wife who had made a sudden unannounced return to home.
These memories psychologically humble the duo and bring them to their knees whenever they be reminiscent. They also confess the social isolation from some morally upright friends who detach from them upon learning of these evils and follies.
Mark (not real names) is defined by his peers in Lumumba hall as a ‘wasted fella’ with no clear vision to guide his future. Spending varieties of nights in clubs and brothels is what closes his weekly schedule according to his close confidant who declines to be mentioned.
Mark has spent almost a decade pursuing this and that course though he has never finished any. In 2012, he originally joined Makerere University on the Bachelor’s degree in civil engineering under government merit. His accommodation, tuition dues and welfare were all covered. After just a year into the course, the youthful Ian deviated from the core purpose and adopted a span of behaviors which soon transited into an addiction. Smoking marijuana, taking alcohol and using cocaine became part and partial of him. Ian lost focus and started visiting Nakulabye and Kalerwe brothels to satisfy his insatiable sexual libido.
He switched to Bachelor’s of social sciences which he also failed to complete as the university suspended him on September, 10 in 2018. His friends say he was disowned by his parents after failing to bring the degree back home. Today he humbled himself to a hopeless youth. He appears resigned from life demands and all he needs from his fellow students is just a note to help him settle a ‘waragi’ bill in the local Kikoni bars where he lounges.
Dr. Simon Simon, a medical doctor attributes the prostitution vice to a series of factors. He importantly fronts poor upbringing and a displeasing economy as the main reasons. He says in most cases, the youths need to attain certain life basics to simplify their livelihoods.
‘’You will find that a girl needs an expensive perfume, or maybe some luxurious items for her room. She won’t call home of course, she will exchange her body for money in return’’, he says.
‘’Therefore, parents must at least frequent at places of residence of their children. This freedom is expensive, it comes with a heavy cost’’, he adds as he offers advice.
Marion Kirabo the serving guild minister of ethics and gender attributes the endangering activities to the administrators whom she crucifies for not doing satisfactorily enough in the counselling services. Kirabo says the counseling centres are limited and yet the students’ number is large.
‘’Our students can even graduate minus knowing where to find a counseling centre and this is really absurd’’, Marion says. ‘’If students can at least be in touch with counselors, may be chances are high that prostitution would be extincted’’, she advises.
A conducted random survey we took today proved Marion’s instincts right. Of every ten students we asked about the location of the counselling centre only three directed us rightly. This means that students can even finish their respective courses minus visiting these centres and yet they can be instrumental in curbing and curtailing prostitution.
What must be done by the university is to devise means of putting in place measures of reactivating the public relations and communications office that can play an informative role of creating awareness in the student domain. If such is implemented, students will be convinced into visiting counseling and rehabilitation centres. If that fails then religious leaders must be engaged to invite students to prayers on a weekly basis.