Mbarara City teenage girls turned into barmaids, sexually harassed amidst COVID-19 lockdown & curfew. Leaders, activists, and other stakeholders in Mbarara City and district want authorities to intervene and jointly fight the escalating cases of Gender-Based Violence including young girls who have turned into barmaids and are being sexually harassed, amidst COVID-19 lockdown and curfew.
November & December 2021 investigations conducted by Rise News Uganda supported by ULTIMATE media consult and the US Embassy in Uganda indicate that young girls (teenagers) who are barmaids are also sleeping with men, risking their lives and losing their future for ugx5000-20,000 in areas of Rubindi & Bwizibwera Mbarara district, Kiyanja, Kikoona, Ruti, Kijungu and other slums around Mbarara city.
“Most barmaids in the said areas can offer sex at as low as Ugx 5000 while others are young girls looking for old men. It hurts me as a parent,” eyewitness in Kiyanja.
Bars & hideouts where these illicit acts are happening include City bar, Goodlife bar among other places in Rubindi, Honorable bar, Muyenga bar, and Omweiguru bar in Bwizibwera.
In Mbarara city, Kijungu, Ruti, and Kiyanja are the popular hotspots with over 20 small bars and hideouts operating in Kiyanja alone.
Others include Triple G guest house and steam lounge in Kijungu, all contrary to COVID-19 Standard Operating Procedures, SOPs.
In an undercover interview with a 19-yr-old barmaid (name withheld), who accepted to offer us sex at Ugx 5000 after paying for a lodge at Moon Light Bar in Kiyanja, the girl shockingly revealed that she was in form 3 at Ndekye Secondary School in Rubirizi district and when schools closed, the owner of the bar brought her for a job in Mbarara. She hopes to go back to school when the government reopens.
Asked about possible teenage pregnancy, she disclosed that she uses family planning at the age of 19.
“If you want me to sleep at your place for a week, you pay my manager Ugx 10,000 every day I am off and my daily Ugx 5000,” she accepted.
In an undercover interview, Masereka Januario the proprietor of Moon Light Bar confirmed that he has girls of different ages and is willing to offer us some of them at a discount for three months.
As Uganda joined the rest of the world to mark 16 DAYS OF ACTIVISM that ended on International Human Rights Day – 10th December 2021, Hon. Rita Atukwasa Bwahika the Mbarara City Woman MP expressed concern over laxity among some parents who have neglected their parental responsibilities.
“What makes you happy makes another person happy and what inflicts pain on you inflicts pain on the other. Abuse is directed to a weaker person. We need to denounce this and bring to book those committing crimes,” Hon. Rita stressed.
According to the Mbarara District Community Development Officer Arthur Byaruhanga, the government needs more implementing partners to eliminate such cases. Between January-August 2020 and January- September 2021, Mbarara district registered a total of 1,363 & over 1200 teenage pregnancies respectively.
Similar cases and other forms of abuse /violence are happening in districts of Isingiro, Rwampara, Kiruhura, Kazo, Kasese, Ibanda, Greater Bushenyi districts, Lyantonde, and other areas especially where perpetrators have taken advantage of the ‘’long’’ lockdown and curfew that have shattered different systems.
The government is expected to fully reopen Schools and the economy in January 2022.
Report compiled by; Aron Ainomugisha a resident of Mbarara City.