I’ve always loved conferences

For many reasons but most of all, to learn on the latest findings, research and future trends the world is looking at

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

So much goes on in our world today that many of us are at a point where we just can’t keep up any more

So, this December, one of my long-time wishes came true

“Being invited to a workshop organized by UYDEL”, as I adoringly refer to them

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

While at another conference, the very first Uganda Alcohol Policy Conference, I met and interacted with colleagues in the struggle from Uganda Youth Development Link

And they extended an invitation to me, to join them at the Annual Conference on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children!

For the sake of our interaction, we are going to cut that name to CSEC, alright?

I couldn’t turn it down

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

This is a very interesting topic to me and something so sad that’s happening world-over

Right under our noses

In the corridors of power and greed

Even in our own country

I beg to take you back a few steps into how we all came into this conference, hhhmmmm….

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

Uganda Youth Development Link (UYDEL) with support from Terres des Hommes Netherlands funded UYDEL to conduct a baseline study on Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children (CSEC) in Kampala and Wakiso (2017) in order to further appreciate the magnitude of CSEC problem and then suggest appropriate measures to sustainably fight the CSEC. The main goal of this study was to develop and sustainably strengthen systems aimed at elimination of Commercial Sexual Exploitation of Children in Uganda.

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

The findings revealed that over 95% of girls between 12-19 years of age are at great risk of sexual abuse. CSEC happens every day and every time in hot spots. However, it was established that there are specific seasons when CSEC is high. These seasons include; Christmas holiday season; Easter holidays; School holidays especially from December up to February; construction seasons for big projects like road construction or construction of a hotel. In such seasons many girls are brought from different places and strategically positioned to engage men in construction that are assumed to have a lot of money.

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

So, the UYDEL CSEC study of 2011 revealed an increase in numbers from 12,000 to 18,000 nationally which shows a glaring picture of the magnitude of commercial sexual exploitation of children in Uganda.  Majority of commercial sex trade involves females though there is a growing trend of many more young boys being exploited sexually. Cases involving boys are much more hidden than female cases because of societal condemnation and stigmatization.

Child pornography is the first step towards prostitution and as such, child pornography is a precursor of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Forcing children (often with the use of gifts or drugs) to pose for pornographic photographs or to take part in pornographic videos or productions is demeaning and designed to take away a child’s dignity and self-respect.  Exposure of children to sexually explicit images, photographs, writings, videos, films and other materials has been noted to be on the rise. The most dishonorable and common form of use of children in pornography is strip dancing in bars and music show performances requiring children to be nude and wear skimpy dresses.

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

CSEC manifests itself in numerous forms, such as child sex tourism, children working in brothels; sex trafficking, sex tourism, pornography and prostitution. External factors such as poverty, economic and food insecurity are key factors in explaining the massive and increasing numbers of entries into survival sex. Poorly enforced laws and gaps in the available legal framework and weakening communities’ capacity to deal with vulnerable persons have contributed to increase in CSEC.

I’m 200% sure that you’ve seen these in your country or community, right?

Child pornography is the first step towards prostitution and as such, child pornography is a precursor of child sexual abuse and exploitation. Forcing children (often with the use of gifts or drugs) to pose for pornographic photographs or to take part in pornographic videos or productions is demeaning and designed to take away a child’s dignity and self-respect.  Exposure to children of sexually explicit images, photographs, writings, videos, films and other materials have been noted to be on the rise. The most dishonorable and common form of use of children in pornography is strip dancing in bars and music show performances requiring children to be nude and wear skimpy dresses.

CSEC manifests itself in numerous forms, such as working in brothels; sex trafficking, sex tourism, pornography and prostitution. Both external factors and personal vulnerabilities contribute to children’s entry into prostitution. External factors such as poverty, economic and food insecurity are key factors in explaining the massive and increasing numbers of entries into survival sex. Poorly enforced laws and gaps in available legal framework and the weakening communities’ capacity to deal with vulnerable persons have contributed to increase in CSEC. In other instances cultural beliefs and misconceptions in regard to early or forced marriage and beliefs around benefits of sexual relations with young girls also facilitates the sexual exploitation of children.

Therefore, this conference aimed at creating a platform for stakeholders to share experiences, and lessons to suggest strategies for advocacy to address Sexual exploitation of children at community and national levels, which we successfully did.

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

Among the presentations that struck me the most was that one of the Violence Against Children in School study, shared with us by the Ministry of Gender, Labour and Social Development

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

If you’ve followed me on social for a while now, you can recall me sharing very key snippets of content in that VACiS study across my Insta

I loved that content so much because I, for one, believe and know that if Uganda chooses to stick to what’s in there; a lot of good will come out for this country

The other was presented by Rogers Kasirye, about the key terminologies and words used under commercial sexual exploitation of children

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

Lots of big words there, I must say

But they ought to be made use of appropriately

We wouldn’t want words to get lost along the way, now would we?

Ooohhh…..you should have listened to Hassan Ssenoga’s testimony that day, which he shared with us! Perhaps, a much clearer picture would be painted, huh

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

Good talk….good conference. Dope food!!!

Photo credit: Uganda Youth Development Link

I look forward to next year when we shall converge again to review our efforts by far!