The International Labor Organization defines child prostitution as the use of girls and boys in sexual activities, remunerated in cash or in kind. It (child prostitution) is among the numerous acts of commercial sexual exploitation of children (CSEC). Government, through the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development developed the National Action Plan on elimination of the Worst Forms of Child Labour in Uganda 2012/13-2016/17 which forbids involvement of children in commercial sex exploitation.

Nonetheless, a recent research by the AfriChild Centre in Makerere University reveals that child prostitution is ranked the second highest risk, after child labor, affecting children’s well-being in Kiyindi. The research titled: ‘A study of community based child protection mechanisms in a fishing community in central Uganda’ involved 152 participants, including adults and children.

Joyce Wanican, the Executive Director of the Centre says the research was conducted to inform programs and policies which aim to improve child well-being.
“At night fall, girls wearing short skirts go to disco halls, bars, lodges and film halls and are bought by older men. The younger boys also engage in commercial sex as the buyers, with older sex workers. The common denominator is always money,” partly reads the report.

Many of these child victims are aged between 11 and 17 years and are out of school. Although there are older prostitutes, many clients prefer young girls because they charge less. Whereas an adult may charge Shs 8,000, a child’s ‘service’ is as low as Shs 1000. Additionally, adults tend to like young girls due to their developing breasts and buttocks as these allegedly boost their libido.

According to the research, prevalence of child prostitution is linked to a number of factors including over exposure of children to pornography, inadequate education opportunities, low social status of women and girls, poverty and unemployment. Many do it to earn money, clothes and fish to take home.
“There is a popular place called Strong Pub where children freely watch films and attend karaoke shows that are full of vulgarism and nakedness. We even have a 10 year old who entertains the crowd and no one is concerned!’ a community elder was quoted.

Disturbingly, it is common to find school girls leaving home for school but instead of going to school, they remove their uniform, change into other clothes and hang out at bars with boys and men.
Wanican attributes the growing numbers of children engaged in child prostitution to parental negligence.
“Many parents leave their children unattended to for long periods of time which exposes them to exploitation. Parental negligence is exposing young girls in Kiyindi to prostitution,” she says.


The landing site, comprised of over 20,000 people, has long grappled with the problem of child prostitution because of underutilized child protection systems. The researchers note that community based child protection mechanisms (CBCPMs) are fast becoming important responses in addressing child protection concerns. Components of CBCPMs include people, groups and networks that exist in the communities.

Despite the existence of the probation and welfare office and the community development office that create child protection committees, communities are oblivious of their existence. Moreover, families prefer handling cases on their own rather than reporting to the police. They only report when there is breach of agreement between the family and perpetuator.
The dire situation communicates that utilization of these community child protection mechanisms remains the practical solution to children and families seeking redress over child protection violations.
Wanican underscores the need of families to fulfil their primary obligation of imparting moral values in their children in order to curb the vice.